Leigh Creek

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS ( 15:02 ): My question is to the Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation. I refer to the minister's ministerial statement in this house on Tuesday regarding the future of Leigh Creek. Will the minister advise what additional resources will be provided to the Outback Communities Authority (OCA) to manage the Leigh Creek community, and what level of local OCA staffing will be based in Leigh Creek?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Employment, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Science and Information Economy) ( 15:02 ): I thank the honourable member for his question. Of new funding over the next four years, there will be $18 million towards Leigh Creek and continuing not just the town services that Alinta has previously provided, the maintenance of things like the swimming pool, the parks, the sporting facilities, but also for refurbishment of housing for Leigh Creek. As I mentioned earlier in the week, part of the housing will be refurbished and part of it will be kept for potential future use. There will be a three-year program to demolish housing that is no longer required, but there will be a review after each year to see what the future needs are. The Outback Communities Authority, which I met with at Leigh Creek when I was there on Monday, will be provided similar funding to what it cost Alinta to run those town services. 

We want to make sure that we give Leigh Creek every opportunity to prosper. We recognise that it is relied on, as I said earlier in the week, not just by those 200 or so who are still living in the town of Leigh Creek but about another 500 from surrounding communities: Copley, Lyndhurst, Nepabunna and Iga Warta areas. One thing we wanted to avoid as best as possible are services running down and people leaving and then more services running down, and that just spiralling and not giving it a chance to be the most that the community possibly can be. 

Last year, we made a decision that we would guarantee the government services—that is the ones the government provided—that is, the police, the hospital and the school services until 2018, which is when Alinta had responsibilities to keep providing the town services. As I outlined earlier this week, we are in negotiations with Alinta looking to take over that earlier than mid-2018, and have the OCA run those services. They will be provided with funding to do that. We recognise that there are, I think, somewhere above 30 localities that the OCA has responsibility for; they do a good job in areas where it is difficult to provide these sorts of municipal services. 

We recognise that there is that need for funding to keep those services going in Leigh Creek, to make sure that in the medium term Leigh Creek has every opportunity to continue to look to some of the opportunities that are there: education opportunities, opportunities to use the airstrip, tourism opportunities in those months that tourism occurs and, of course, the opportunities that are there as a regional service centre.

 

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS ( 15:05 ): A supplementary: first, could the minister clarify what proportion of the $18 million is actually going to OCA, and, secondly, could he answer my original question about the level of local OCA staffing in Leigh Creek? 

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Employment, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Science and Information Economy) ( 15:05 ): I have the overall figure of about $18 million. Regarding the exact amount being spent in the different areas, I am happy to go away and have a look at that and bring back a response. However, as I outlined, it is intended that the services that have been running will continue to run, so it will be commensurate with what it costs Alinta at the moment to provide the services and of course commensurate also with the number of people there. Of course it will change depending on the population, but I will certainly go away and see if there is more detail on projections over the next few years for the honourable member.

 

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS ( 15:06 ): Thank you. I have another supplementary. I just want to clarify this: the minister refers to $18 million, but I gather that there is not $18 million going to OCA. That is what I am trying to find out, what the funding is to OCA. 

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Employment, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Science and Information Economy) ( 15:06 ): It is $18 million over the next four years for Leigh Creek. Certainly, part of that will be for those town services, the municipal services, that will be managed by OCA, and part of that will be for refurbishing of housing stock in the community. In terms of the exact split between those, or as best as can be ascertained, because we do not know what the population is going to be over the next four years, I will go back and look at what those estimates are and bring back an answer for the honourable member. 

The Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins: And local staffing levels? 

The Hon. K.J. MAHER: It will be commensurate with what is needed to provide those services. I know that the state government will be putting a transition manager into the town, but for the fine-grained details of what we have got I will bring back an answer for the honourable member.

 

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS ( 15:07 ): A final supplementary: will the transition manager be employed by OCA or by some other agency of government? 

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Employment, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Science and Information Economy) ( 15:07 ): That will be a state government employee in addition to whatever is required for the OCA.