24/03/2009 - 14:41

Pilbara project sacrificed for Oakajee

24/03/2009 - 14:41

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The state opposition has urged the government to get its priorities right after Premier Colin Barnett admitted to axing the $1.3 billion Pilbara power project in favour of the $4 billion Oakajee port and rail development.

Pilbara project sacrificed for Oakajee

The state opposition has urged the government to get its priorities right after Premier Colin Barnett admitted to axing the $1.3 billion Pilbara power project in favour of the $4 billion Oakajee port and rail development.

Last week, Mr Barnett officially signed a state agreement with developer Oakajee Port and Rail over the Mid West development, which is seen as critical for the expansion of the region's iron ore mines.

Mr Barnett had said at the time the state was prepared to commit $678 million towards the project if the federal government did not provide funding.

Today, Shadow Minister for Strategic Infrastructure Alannah MacTiernan said Mr Barnett has falsely claimed the Pilbara integrated electricity grid project would subsidise mining companies.

"The Pilbara Interconnected grid project will reduce power costs in the Pilbara by up to 30%, provide vastly more reliable power and dramatically reduce carbon emissions," she said.

"It is absolutely necessary to attract more industry and more development to the region over the next two decades.

"In that time, Pilbara power needs are set to at least double if not quadruple."

The previous Labor government had given top priority in its submissions to the infrastructure Australia fund in mid-2008.

Although Mr Barnett withdrew the project within his first few weeks in government, private company Worley Parsons lodged a substitute application which is currently being assessed.

Ms MacTiernan said she and Pilbara members Vince Catania and Tom Stephens were lobbying to have the $1.3 billion project kept alive.

"An allocation of $10 million from Infrastructure Australia would kick start the project, setting up the framework necessary for the coordination and upgrade of the power supply."

Worley Parsons project leader Greg Denton presented Shire of Roebourne and Chamber of Commerce representatives with an overview of the power project and met with Federal Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese to promote the project.

Ms MacTiernan said the people of the Pilbara should be deeply concerned that the Barnett Government does not have a single Pilbara project eligible for Building Australia funding.

"It was economic vandalism to sacrifice this power project for the Oakajee Port which the private sector had been ready, willing and able to fund," she said.

A spokesperson for the Premier said Mr Barnett has included the Pilbara for funds from the federal government's Infrastructure Australia fund.

He said the state government is seeking some $1 billion for the housing works program in the Pilbara, which funds to also go towards power and water supply in the region.


STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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