27 July, 2021
Entsch blown away by Cape York communities
Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch said he was blown away by the progress of a number of Cape York communities during last week’s trip across the Peninsula.
By MATT NICHOLLS
The MP started in Pormpuraaw and visited Kowanyama, Aurukun, Weipa, Mapoon, Lockhart River and the NPA.
He said he was particularly impressed with the work being done by the Lockhart River and Mapoon councils.
“Both of those councils should be commended for their work in developing business on the ground,” he said.
“I was very, very encouraged to see what they are doing.”
Mr Entsch said he was given a tour of the new sports centre in Lockhart River, which is set to be re-opened as a tavern.
“It looks fantastic and will be a great community asset,” he said.
“These guys are really kicking goals and I want to congratulate (mayor) Wayne Butcher and (council CEO) David Clarke for the work they are putting in.
“And they are doing it with pure council initiative; they aren’t sitting back looking for funding dollars.”
He said the creation of a new dance festival grounds near the waterfront at Lockhart River was something to keep an eye on, too.
What impressed the MP most in his visits to the communities was the number of local employees on the ground.
“Everywhere you went, whether it was someone on a machine, mowing, trenching or building new cabins, they were all locals,” he said.
“That’s what the Cape has needed for a long time.”
In Mapoon, Mr Entsch said he was impressed with the number of tourism initiatives that were being implemented by the small council, led by mayor Aileen Addo.
“They’ve got some pretty impressive plans and vision. The new cultural centre is going to be fantastic,” he said.
WHILE in Weipa, where he based himself for most of the week, Mr Entsch said he had a positive sit down with Rio Tinto to discuss normalisation.
“They reaffirmed to me the fact they are totally committed to normalisation,” he said.
“It was the best meeting I have had with Rio in 25 years in this job.
“We had all their managers sitting in the room and discussed all the different elements – that is the first time that has ever occurred and I want to thank Michelle (Elvy) for doing that.
“I wasn’t expecting it and it was a nice surprise.”
Making a commitment to normalising Weipa and actually doing it are two different things, though, something the MP was happy to acknowledge.
“They have already got a committee established and they admitted that they have to start to accelerate that process,” he said.
“There’s one problem and that’s with the committee.
“There’s Rio Tinto, the state government and the WCCCA. I told them there was one important element missing and that’s the Weipa Town Authority.
“All the ratepayers need to be heard because they’ve already got a lot invested in the community,” he said.
“The town office needs to be a part of the solution.”
Mr Entsch said Rio Tinto also needed to look at expanding the types of land on offer in Weipa to include residential acreage, which would diversify the town’s population.
He said the company should also fast-track plans for another passage to Mapoon.
“We know that Rio Tinto’s mining use for the Mission River bridge is not going to be for that much longer, so they should be preparing for a different access road for Mapoon,” he said.
“There’s no way TMR will take on that bridge so Rio Tinto need to be looking at a viable realignment.”