Hauling the Upper Spencer Gulf out of trouble

Today is the final day of coal haulage from Leigh Creek to Port Augusta’s power stations yet the communities of the Upper Spencer Gulf are still waiting for the Weatherill Government to develop a comprehensive jobs plan for the region.


“The closure of Alinta’s operations will have a devastating impact on local communities yet the Weatherill Government has offered just $1 million in new money for the region, with another $7 million re-allocated from existing regional programs,” said Shadow Minister for Regional Development Dan van Holst Pellekaan.


“The communities of the Upper Spencer Gulf need a bold, substantial package to begin re-orientating the economy in the face of the devastating job losses at Alinta.


“It is totally unacceptable that the Weatherill Government has committed a miserly $1 million in new money for the 500 employees and contractors losing their income when Alinta closes the Leigh Creek coal mine and Port Augusta power stations.


“The $7 million was always going to be spent in regional South Australia before Alinta announced it was going to shut down its operations in the Upper Spencer Gulf.


“The Weatherill Government has had 10 months to develop a plan but to date the only job created  has been for former Labor Minister Jane Lomax-Smith to oversee ideas for future business ventures in Leigh Creek.


“By way of contrast the Weatherill Government has committed $60 million as part of a joint state and federal $275 million assistance package for northern Adelaide to deal with the closure of Holden’s Elizabeth plant.


“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 of alternative employment.


“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.


“The Weatherill Government needs to put a genuine economic package on the table if the communities of the Upper Spencer Gulf are going to cope with these job losses.”