With the news that Alinta has abandoned a feasibility study into replacing its coal-fired powered stations in Port Augusta with a solar thermal plant the State Liberals are calling on the Weatherill Government to release its support package for region.
“I’m increasingly concerned that the Weatherill Government is totally bereft of ideas as to how to avert catastrophic job losses in the Upper Spencer Gulf and Outback as a result of the impending closure of the Port Augusta power station and Leigh Creek coal mine,” said Shadow Minister for State Development Dan van Holst Pellekaan.
“The cruel reality is that the Leigh Creek coal mine will almost certainly close in November this year and the Port Augusta power station will close early next year.
“Yet more than 100 days after Alinta Energy announced it would shed more than 500 employees and contractors in Port Augusta and Leigh Creek the Weatherill Government has only committed a miserly one million dollars in assistance for the region and none of it goes directly to the affected workers.
“Indeed Premier Weatherill is yet to answer even the most basic question - will the town of Leigh Creek be allowed to remain open?
“As well as being home to 600 people, Leigh Creek is an important regional service centre providing a school, hospital and police station as well as services to the tourism, transport, mining and pastoral industries and other smaller local towns.”
“Even if every family connected to the mine were to leave Leigh Creek, there would still be 51 children in the district needing to go to school and yet the government has refused to make a long term commitment to their education.”
“Alinta has been open and transparent about it plans and yet the Weatherill Government remains closed and unresponsive to the genuine concerns of local people.
“Alinta’s withdrawal from the north of South Australia will be as devastating as the closure of Holden will be for the north of Adelaide, it will happen sooner and force the affected workers to travel further in search in alternative employment.
“The Weatherill Government needs to develop a comprehensive plan to ensure the people of Port Augusta, Leigh Creek and the surrounding towns are properly supported during this very difficult time.
“The Weatherill Government has allocated $60 million to help the people of the north of Adelaide prepare for the closure of Holden and the flow on economic effects from that closure.
“Proportionate assistance to alleviate the impact of the withdrawal of Alinta must be made available for the communities of Port Augusta, Leigh Creek and the surrounding district.”