It took multiple invitations from the mayor of a small South Australian town to lure Prime Minister Anthony Albanese there for a visit. 

Key points:

  • The prime minister visits Port Lincoln after a personal invitation from the town’s mayor
  • Diana Mislov says her persistence paid off, as Anthony Albanese called her himself to arrange the trip
  • Trade issues, housing, and childcare were among the topics discussed at the stakeholder meeting

Mr Albanese visited Port Lincoln, on the Eyre Peninsula, last week as he toured the country promoting the Yes campaign for the Voice to Parliament.

But it was a simple invitation from City of Port Lincoln Mayor Diana Mislov that drew him to the town.

“I think the message might be just extend invitations and just persist because you never know, the answer might be yes,” Cr Mislov said.

Ms Mislov said she first extended an invitation to the prime minister to visit her town while she was in Canberra a few months ago for a national Local Government Association (LGA) meeting.

Port Lincoln on South Australia’s Eyre Peninusla.(Supplied: Port Lincoln City Council)

“I took some water bottles from our visitor information centre that have Port Lincoln on them because we have a water security issue,” she said.

“I popped those drink bottles in front of whoever I could, and one of them was the prime minister.

Diana Mislov and Anthony Albanese at the event last week.(Supplied: Port Lincoln City Council)

“The next morning, I got up early, went to the assembly he was giving the introduction, and I bumped into him again on purpose and invited him [to come to Port Lincoln] again.”

Cr Mislov arrived home and wrote a letter to Mr Albanese with the reasons he should visit.

After Mr Albanese did not attend in person at Port Lincoln’s Bush Summit earlier this year, Cr Mislov told him on the webcam meeting he should come to the town, again.

“Persistence pays off, and I got a random phone call directly from the prime minister,” she said.

“He left a message, and I thought it was a hoax, I thought my brothers were taking the mickey out of me so I was just like ‘Oh yeah, whatever’.

“I played the message back a couple of times, so I rang back and it sounded legit, so I left another message and he rang me again.”

What was achieved

Cr Mislov said Mr Albanese attended a meeting at the Marina Hotel with lots of business groups and stakeholders from Port Lincoln and the surrounding area.

“We talked about other things as well, I gave a bit of a speech that covered, I thought, most of the issues we’re facing here locally and a little bit wider, things like rail and other topical issues like housing, childcare,” Cr Mislov said.

“We just wanted a nice peaceful visit that he could come and listen to community issues one-on-one with our relevant people.

“I think he thinks our region’s thriving, and he also had a very big focus on the grain export terminal, so he’s got a visit coming up to China and he’s going to be talking about trade and exports there.

Diana Mislov says she invited the prime minister to visit Port Lincoln on several occasions.(Supplied: Robert Lang Photography)

“It was great to have some of our crayfish industry personnel in the room to be able to talk about their export markets,” she said.

Mr Albanese said he enjoyed his trip to the region.

“It was just an opportunity to talk through issues, a number of people I talked to about the Voice, we were talking about the opportunity that’s there to expand exports from this wonderful region,” he said.

“It was a real chance, I want to make sure I’m the prime minister for the whole country — not just the cities.”

Cr Mislov said she appreciated the prime minister’s visit.

“We were very delighted to have him here, I’m still buzzing from it all … it was just great,” she said.

Water security in Port Lincoln

Drinking water for most of the Eyre Peninsula is currently sourced from local groundwater including the Uley South Basin and the River Murray via pipelines.

The Uley South Basin has suffered low natural recharge due to low rainfall in the area in recent years, and maintenance on the bores within the basin have revealed the basin needs a rest, and an alternative water supply needs to be found.

It is proposed the desalination plant will be built at Billy Lights Point.(ABC Eyre Peninsula: Henry Milic)

A recent site selection committee recommended a desalination plant be built at Sleaford West, which is about 20 kilometres south of Port Lincoln.

Despite this, SA Water has proposed Billy Lights Point, about 6km east of Port Lincoln, as the site to build the desalination plant which has concerned many fishermen and environmentalists.