Update on unsettled Outback Authority situation – includes Letters to Editor + comments

In what has become very public “consultation”, Outback Communities in the Far North of South Australia believe that efforts to communicate and consult have been continually disregarded, resulting in affected communities now discussing an alliance of the people.

The entire point of current discussions is that despite previous consultations have taken place and a legislation passed, that the outcome of the Outback Authority’s selection of it’s board not only doesn’t reflect the consultation process it does not comply with the legislation and is therefore unacceptable.

The fledgling Outback Authority for unincorporated areas in SA has responded to media attention of it’s board member selection saying: “The original OACDT has been operating for 30 years and it had to change,” Bill McIntosh on behalf of the Outback Authority said. “We do have some other things to do like consulting on our public consultation policy and that will be released shortly as well,” Mr. McIntosh continued.

In an apparent diversion from the topic in question Bill McIntosh said the Outback Authority will be releasing  a draft policy on the process of consultation. “We want to hear what the outback people are saying, but we are looking at the opportunities. Some of the challenges the government is facing are infrastructure and mining”, he said.

OAC now plans to put together a strategic plan where communities will endure more consultation processes which many believe will be a further waste of their time, considering how previous consultations have appeared to end up. “We haven’t been heard in the past; we aren’t being heard now, so what will change in the future?” is what the communities are trying to get across.

Today Peter Allen from the Andamooka Progress and Opal Miners Association said, “It appears that our concerns have fallen on deaf ears, hence the terminology “absolute nonsense” used by Minister Gago.

“While the Minister referred to Andamooka’s comments as absolute nonsense she was already aware that other communities shared our views which simply means that all of our views are considered absolute nonsense.”

The opal mining town of Andamooka had been taking in an overflow of workers from the Roxby Downs Olympic Dam Copper, Gold, Uranium mine up until recently. This strategy placed enormous pressure on the normally viable Progress Association which created a situation where a government manager was secured to assist Progress in coping with excessive town maintenance at the time and with some flow on effects.
In retrospect, the Andamooka residents can only see that the influx portrayed as “helping their economy” has only served to divert the opal mining community from the purpose of their own presence in their remote town, which for the past 50 years or so has simply been to mine opal. 

Many of the Roxby mine workers and their families who occupied space in Andamoooka have since relocated to Roxby Downs after rental properties in Roxby were offered at a cheaper price.  This has left the town still operating with a government representative in place with some unfortunate clashes as to how the opal mining town should be maintained.

Dear Outback Resident

We, like many other outback communities were dismayed to discover what we believe to be a lack of any reasonable representation on the new Authority by outback residents. The selections made by the Minister are in fact not in accord with the provision of the Act and we drew the Ministers attention to this.

This new Authority will in the future be levying rates against every property owner in the outback and without reasonable outback representation the future to us looks uncertain.

Most of us have had to deal with bureaucratic nonsense which makes sense to people from North Terrace, Adelaide but is entirely inappropriate to life and conditions in the bush.

As a result of this, APOMA, has advised the Minister that we do not and will not recognize the new Authority with the present make-up of the Board which we believe to be in contravention of the Act.

It seems apparent to us that Government is refusing to heed our reasonable concerns perhaps in the hope that we will eventually surrender any democratic rights to control  our own governance.

It is our intention to pursue the formation of an alliance with all of you as outback residents with a view to gaining a voice in the management of the outback. This should benefit everyone in the unincorporated regions of the State.

A large number of other community groups and individuals have already thrown support to us both verbally and in writing which shows that we are not alone in our concerns.

A representative alliance would allow the residents of the unincorporated areas of the Outback to have a united voice.

Your thoughts and support would be greatly appreciated. Please see attachment of a possible basis for comment.

Please pass this on to as many residents as possible.

APOMA Committee.
(Andamooka Progress & Opal Miners Association)
PO Box 246 ANDAMOOKA SA 5722
Phone: (08) 8672 7152



One of the first commitments of the newly appointed members of the Outback Communities Authority, has been to schedule regular meetings to take place in different Outback communities.

The decision was made unanimously by members at their first meeting in Port Augusta on 3 August and will enable every member to strengthen relationships with communities across the Outback.

Chairman Bill McIntosh said he looked forward to the Authority getting more exposure amongst Outback residents.

“Our September meeting will be held in Andamooka and we intend to hold meetings in at least three more townships during our first 12 months,” Mr McIntosh said.

“All of our members have strong connections to the Outback but this will enable us to build on our relationships with residents, reinforcing our commitment to support volunteers and ensure access to essential services such as water and waste management.

“We are also preparing to maximise opportunities to work with other government and non-government organisations to benefit Outback communities and are developing a register of members’ commitments on boards and committees.

“We will be regularly briefing the Minister to ensure she is kept informed on all issues affecting the Outback.

“These connections will tie in with the draft community engagement strategy that the Authority is preparing for discussion at our September meeting, before releasing it for public consultation.”

At its first meeting the Authority asked its officers to:
• provide a report on the demographic profile of the unincorporated areas
• develop a position description for a new Far North Community Development Officer role which will be co-funded by the Authority
• provide a report on the status of the draft Andamooka Master Plan, developed during 2007, with a view to re-engaging the community about planning issues
• provide a report about funding to the Isolated Children’s Parent’s Association
State Conference, and providing an opportunity to engage with the Association on an ongoing basis.

The Authority approved the 2010/11 interim budget, thus enabling the Authority to continue its operations whilst it develops and consults on its Strategic Management Plan.

The Authority plans to meet on a monthly basis, with the intention to hold meetings on the second Thursday of each month.

The Authority’s meeting minutes will be published on it’s website at in coming days.

Please note, as the Chairman works in the Outback, he is not always within good telephone or mobile reception range. If you would like to interview the Chairman about the outcomes of the first meeting, please contact me as soon as possible so I can endeavour to get in contact with him to arrange a suitable opportunity inside the next  two days.

Re: Authority commits to schedule of meetings in Outback communities
Dear Minister Gago

it is unfortunate that you continue to squirm in an attempt to justify your selection of members to the new Outback Areas Authority and in particular the section of the Act which states “at least four are to be members of different outback communities.”

You have variously described the members as:-

• “All having a strong range of connections with the outback” news release. 05/07/10
• “currently reside in or have a residence and or business in the outback” letter to editor, Coober Pedy Times. 29/07/10
• “either live in or have lived in the outback. ABC 16/08/10

It would appear that you have either not noted what we have previously said or chosen to ignore our recent communications which clearly outline the situation that we, and other communities believe to be the case.

We find it difficult to understand where the problem lies.

Either a person “comes from an outback community or they don’t. No further qualification is necessary.

Owning a residence or business or having previously lived in an outback community or having a strong range of connections with the outback or in fact own and live on a pastoral property really are immaterial.
It can only be hoped that at some point in the not too distant future you will understand what we are saying and remedy the situation to the satisfaction of the outback communities.

Yours Sincerely
Peter Allen  Chairman

Re: Authority commits to schedule of meetings in Outback communities

Good Afternoon [Open Letter]

The conduct of OACDT  and OCA; its Chair and manager has been a disaster for Outback SA for about 10 years.

Continuation with this regime will bring nothing but trouble for the Govt. despite the safe-seat status of most of the organisations area.  Individual meetings at communities will only serve to hide the disgust those that take a leading  role in communities feel for OCA’s dishonesty and  incompetence.

The recent election of a Board of unknowns  just rubs salt into the wounds caused by Mr.Suttons conduct.

We deserve better, Ms Gago-   time for a change

Your sincerely

Adam Plate
Oodnadatta  Traders Pty Ltd
Tourist Services / General Contracting
PO Oodnadatta 
South Australia 5734

Appointment of the new Outback Communities Authority Board
Marla & Districts Progress Assoc. says:

“While we are disappointed that the new Outback Communities Authority board does not have more representatives from outback communities, at this stage we are prepared to work with the new board in developing an appropriate manner of governing outback communities.
We can however, understand and support the actions taken by other Progress Associations in the matter of the appointment of the Outback Communities Authority board. 

We are also dissatisfied with the method of selection of the board members and would hope that in the future we can move towards an elected board of representatives for the outback.  

We appreciate that it is early days for the new board and would like to extend an invitation to any board member or Outback Communities Staff member to visit our community at any time so that they can meet the people that they represent and listen to our concerns”.

Gillian Fennell
Marla & Districts Progress Association Inc.

1 reply »

  1. From: Shirley and David Mills
    Copley Cabin and Caravan Park

    Dear Peter

    My thoughts are to divide the Outback into regions

    A member from each group would then be “elected” onto a committee who would then represent those areas that have things in common and that can be discussed at these group meetings which would then be passed onto the OCA.

    Ideally some of these members should be on the OCA Board but this might be the next best thing to get things moving in the right direction.

    An outback forum should be held every two years in each district so each of the communities and members can get to know each others areas and keep abreast of what is happening in each town.
    I have no idea who will pay for any of this maybe each progress association put a donation into a trust account which can then be used for future forums.

    These forums are to be organised without OCA help in regard speakers etc and then we can discuss what the communities want and not what politics want us to listen to.

    This information will then be forwarded to Ministers etc. I love the outback and am passionate about it and get frustrated with the ongoing B/S.

    These are only quick thoughts and they really do need to be thrashed out.

    Shirley and David Mills
    Copley Cabin and Caravan Park
    Northern Flinders Ranges
    Ph/Fax (08) 86785 2288

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