Cloud over Newman camp lease
■ 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.