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6 July, 2021

Politicians have their say on Weipa normalisation

Robbie Katter says he wants to see the state government take immediate action on the issue of normalising Weipa and is happy to take up the cause in parliament.

By Matt Nicholls

By MATT NICHOLLS

The state leader of Katter’s Australian Party said it was not good enough that the Queensland government had stood by and allowed a mining company to control a town the size of Weipa.

“They have had 14 years to have this resolved,” Mr Katter said, pointing to the Cape York Weekly article which pointed to an independent report commissioned by the state government that recommended Weipa become part of a normalised local government.

“I want to see immediate attention on this issue.”

Mr Katter, who was in Weipa last year on the election trail, said he could see opportunities for the community outside of mining.

“There isn’t going to be that growth while (Rio Tinto) are calling the shots,” he said.

The Member for Traeger said he was disappointed that Cynthia Lui, the local MP, had not taken up the fight on behalf of Weipa.

“I would respectfully say to Cynthia Lui that she needs to decide whether she wants to take the side of her friends in Brisbane and passively observe the decline of regional areas, or be a part of change and insist the government has a more aspirational attitude towards Weipa,” Mr Katter said.

“Her party would say there’s no future for a place like Weipa but for KAP we would only see opportunities, including a cattle and freight hub.”

MINISTER RESPONDS

LOCAL Government Minister Mark Bailey didn’t enjoy last week’s front page story, but did reach out to Cape York Weekly and provided a direct comment.

Although he didn’t quite answer the questions put to him, or offer an interview, he said this:

“The Queensland Government remains open to further discussions with the community, Traditional Owners and Rio Tinto about the possibility of transitioning responsibility over time.

“These conversations have been ongoing.

“The transition of Weipa to full local government status is a complex and sensitive issue that requires consultation with a range of stakeholders, including the Traditional Owners and surrounding local government areas.

“All conversations need to be about ensuring the best outcome for the community and the viability of any future local government.”

ENTSCH NOT HAPPY

WARREN Entsch said Weipa was “overdue” to be a normalised community and was frustrated that Rio Tinto had dragged its heels on the issue.

He told the Western Cape Chamber of Commerce function about how the mining company had requested the diesel fuel subsidy for the mine, which would then allow it to hand over the keys.

“I went to work and it took a couple of years but I got the federal government to find the room in the budget and it just sat there,” the MP said.

“In the end I had to go back to the Treasurer and tell him to spend the money on something else because Rio Tinto weren’t interested.”

Mr Entsch said the miner had been a positive influence on Cape York’s lifestyle and economy, but its handling of the normalisation process would be crucial to its legacy in the region.

“Rio Tinto will be judged on how it leaves Weipa and the Cape and what kind of condition it is when it leaves,” he said.


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