Cloud over New­man camp lease

Pilbara News - - News - Ben Leahy

■ There is con­fu­sion about whether the lease for New­man’s Kurra Vil­lage work­ers’ camp has been ex­tended ahead of a De­cem­ber 31 dead­line.

The camp ac­com­mo­dates 600 to 1100 BHP Bil­li­ton work­ers, com­pared with about 1000 com­pany em­ploy­ees who re­side in New­man.

BHP claimed the lease was a done deal.

But Min­is­ter for Lands Terry Red­man said it had not yet been ap­proved.

“As I re­main un­con­vinced about the need for Kurra Vil­lage to be re­tained at its cur­rent size and with­out good in­te­gra­tion into the com­mu­nity, I, as of to­day, have not re­newed this lease,” he said.

The con­fu­sion ap­peared to have arisen be­cause Kurra Vil­lage partly rests on crown land and partly on land cov­ered by a State Agree­ment Act.

This meant it re­quired ap­proval from both Mr Red­man’s Depart­ment of Lands and the Premier’s Depart­ment of State De­vel­op­ment.

While the Na­tion­als cur­rently op­pose the camp’s lease ex­ten­sion, coali­tion part­ner Premier Colin Bar­nett has backed its ex­ten­sion in his role as Min­is­ter for State De­vel­op­ment.

Mr Red­man said the Na­tion­als’ op­po­si­tion was based on the party’s push to max­imise residential work­forces in re­gional com­mu­ni­ties.

Na­tion­als Pil­bara MP Bren­don Grylls was more stri­dent.

He said it would be “un­con­scionable” to re­new Kurra Vil­lage’s lease now rents had be­come “cheaper (in New­man) than in Perth”.

“I strongly put on the record there is no case for re­newal of the lease here in New­man, ” he said.

“It would be an af­front to any­one who has in­vested into New­man, ei­ther in small busi­ness or real es­tate if we do that.”

But BHP said FIFO ros­ters gave their work­ers choice.

“We are not pre­pared to man­date that our FIFO work­force be­come res­i­den­tially based, but we will con­tinue to en­cour­age a strong residential pres­ence in New­man,” a com­pany spokes­woman said.

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