Double blow for Upper Spencer Gulf

With the closure of the Leigh Creek coal mine and the loss of another 250 on-site jobs at Whyalla steelmaker and miner Arrium, the State Liberals are calling on the Weatherill Government to increase its completely inadequate economic assistance package for the communities of Upper Spencer Gulf and Outback.

“When the Port Augusta power station closes early next year nearly 1,400 on-site workers will have lost their jobs from Alinta and Arrium sites alone, yet the Weatherill Government has allocated just $1 million of new money in its miserly $7 million package,” said Shadow Minister for State Development Dan van Holst Pellekaan.

“When compared to the State Government’s $60 million economic assistance package for the closure of Holden’s in northern Adelaide the Upper Spencer Gulf package is no more than spare change.

“The State Government has provide a $60 million package to combat the loss of 1,600 on-site Holden jobs in the north of Adelaide, but only $7 million for the loss of 1,400 onsite jobs in the Upper Spencer Gulf and Outback.

“The communities of the Upper Spencer Gulf and Outback desperately need the State Government to deliver a comprehensive economic assistance package to prevent the deep economic problems in the region becoming entrenched.

“It is particularly galling that every cent of the $7 million package announced last week had already been announced in other ways – it is merely the re-allocation of funds from existing regional development and employment programs.

“The $7 million was always going to be spent in regional South Australia before this crisis struck, what is needed is additional new money for a new problem.

“Alinta’s withdrawal from the north of South Australia and Arrium’s deep job cuts will be just as devastating for the north of the state as the closure of Holden will be for the north of Adelaide.

“The job losses in the Upper Spencer Gulf and Outback are happening right now and the affected workers will have to travel much further in search of alternative employment.

“Proportionate assistance to alleviate the impact of the withdrawal of Alinta and job losses at Arrium must be made available for the communities of Whyalla, Port Augusta, Leigh Creek and the surrounding districts.

“At the last State Election the Liberal Party put together a $139 million funding package for our regional communities.”