Councils need fairer deal on jetty leases

HERE on the Eyre Peninsula jetties are part of coastal towns’ identities and they also play a big part in local lifestyle. 

It is not hard to see, especially at this time of year, how important jetties are to the community; there are children swimming around them, families walking along them and people fishing from them.

There is no arguing that jetties should be there in the future but it’s easy to forget they also have a past.

The Tumby Bay jetty, for example, was built in the early 1900s and this is probably true for many of the jetties on Eyre Peninsula so it goes without saying that they need a bit of maintenance here and there.

But councils are being left to foot the bill for the repairs and maintenance needed on historic local jetties, despite the infrastructure being state government owned. 

Local jetties are leased from the Department of Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI), and are renewed every 20 years.

Tumby Bay District Council chief executive officer Trevor Smith points out in today’s story that metropolitan jetty maintenance costs are covered by government while his council is left paying for $30,000 of repairs for the Port Neill jetty.

Based on that information it does seem like a new lease agreement would only be fair, especially when the Lower Eyre Peninsula District Councils have more than one jetty under their care and control.

Lower Eyre Peninsula District Council mayor Jo-Anne Quigley makes a good point that her council is happy to pay for maintenance knowing the community enjoys its jetty.

But, like she said, how far should councils be going and how much should they be spending on assets they do not even own?

It would be sad to see any local jetty demolished but if they become structurally unsafe and require major repairs councils may one day have to make a tough decision.

In that case, hopefully state government would recognise how important jetties are to the lifestyle of residents in regional coastal towns. 

It would be even better again if the state government attempted to level the playing field for regional councils and developed a fairer lease agreement now.

That would mean local councils can get back to maintaining what they own and it could take some pressure off of regional ratepayers too.