May 19, 2022

Political party unveils plan to attract graduates to country towns such as Whyalla | News from Whyalla

CAMPAIGN: SA-Best’s Tom Antonio says country towns are dying ‘because none of us are able to attract and keep key workers’.

FANTASY: Giles Labor MP Eddie Hughes, third from right, with union members says his political opponents are "live in an imaginary land".

FANTASY: Giles Labor MP Eddie Hughes, third from right, with union members, says his political opponents are ‘living in fantasy land’.

A first grant scheme in Australia has been proposed to enable university graduates to have their HECS debt ‘paid off’ in full in return for working on the Eyre Peninsula.

It is a policy of the SA-BEST political party whose candidate Tom Antonio is challenging Eddie Hughes of Labor for the seat of Whyalla-based Giles.

This ambitious program is particularly useful for cities that are looking for doctors on the peninsula.

Under this program, a qualified graduate – doctors, nurses, specialists, teachers and other professionals – would receive an annual scholarship if they committed to work in the country for up to five years.

Set at a rate of up to $5,000 per year, the plan would provide a graduate with up to $25,000 during that time – or the equivalent of their HECS debt, whichever is less.

If the graduate decides to leave the region before the expiration of this commitment, he will have to reimburse the scholarship.

SA-BEST upper house MP Frank Pangallo said the program hinged on the party winning the balance of power in the Legislative Council in national elections, after which he would demand that the party that forms the government commits funds to the program.

Antonio said the program was a great way to attract young graduates to regional towns looking for specialized services.

“Our regions are dying because none of us are able to attract and retain key workers,” he said.

Mr Hughes responded by saying he supported anything that would bring graduates to the country and that the Labor Party had already indicated ways to help graduates get to rural areas.

“SA-BEST will never be able to deliver anything. They basically live in a fantasy land,” he said.

“They can make all kinds of promises and come with a set of free steak knives, but they can’t do anything.”