27/01/2009 - 15:18

Road to Hope for Ravensthorpe region

27/01/2009 - 15:18

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The state government says it will seal the road from Hopetoun to Bremer Bay, and provide financial assistance of $5 million, to lessen the financial impact of the closure of BHP Billiton's Ravensthorpe nickel operations.

Road to Hope for Ravensthorpe region

The state government says it will seal the road from Hopetoun to Bremer Bay, and provide financial assistance of $5 million, to lessen the financial impact of the closure of BHP Billiton's Ravensthorpe nickel operations.

Premier Colin Barnett did not give a timeframe for completion of the road but said he hoped the cost, estimated at $40 to $60 million, would be part of the May budget, if nothing unexpected happened of greater priority.

Mr Barnett did not specify how the $5 million assistance package would be delivered, and he declined to comment on how small businesses could benefit, but he ruled out giving assistance to prevent mortgage default.

"That's not the responsibility of the state government nor the tax payers," said Mr Barnett.

The government has also undertaken to retain full staffing for police, school and emergency services for a period of six months.

"There will be no pull-out of government services from Ravensthorpe, Hopetoun or Esperance," Mr Barnett said.

The entire amount needed to buffer the financial and social impact of the closure is $50 million, according to the Shire of Ravensthorpe.

Mr Barnett said government was disappointed with the way BHP Billiton handled the situation, but was unable to compel the nickel giant to give financial compensation.

The government will undertake a study of costs, design and environmental impact of building a road through the Fitzgerald National Park.

Mr Barnett said the park was an area of significant biodiversity and the environmental effect of building a road through needed to be properly considered.

He did not think opening up the area to tourist traffic would threaten its listing as a UNESCO environmental heritage site.

Mr Barnett also said there would be announcements on the future of a number stalled of State Government infrastructure projects within the month.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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