City of Karratha residents forced to pay for council’s mistakes

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Concerned residents in the City of Karratha say their complaints about the Pilbara Underground Power Project (PUPP), a Royalties for Regions scheme initiated by the state government in 2010, are falling on deaf ears.

Under the scheme the City of Karratha was to receive $84 million worth of funding with a further 25 per cent, or $21 million, to be paid by ratepayers through the introduction of a council levy; an average contribution of $3,300.

The budget for PUPP has since blown out to more than $230 million and the ratepayers of Karratha, not the state or local government, are being forced to pay the difference.

Greens Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Robin Chapple MLC said it was outrageous that ratepayers should have to pay for the mistakes of state, and local, governments.

“The whole Pilbara Underground Power Project is a bit of a sham really,” he said.

“It was initiated to combat the power outages Pilbara residents are faced with each year during cyclone season, however the whole Northwest is fed via massive 220kv overhead transmission lines that span the Pilbara coastline.

“The last power outage, caused by Cyclone Christine in December last year, happened because one of these transmission lines was brought down and had nothing to do with the power network of Karratha and other Pilbara towns.

Mr Chapple said the former local government had not been honest to residents about the project.

“Residents weren’t consulted, they were just told it was happening and that they would be charged a council levy,” he said.

“That’s all fine, and I don’t necessarily disagree with sinking the power in major centres across the Pilbara as an added safety net, but when costs blowout to the level they have here you can’t really expect ratepayers to sit there and take it.

Mr Chapple said Horizon Power and Royalties for Regions must now ensure that the cost of this ill researched decision is not dumped on residents.

“Horizon has not given this situation its due diligence, it’s tantamount to corruption,” he said.

“The former Director of Horizon Power was simultaneously the President of the Shire of Roebourne when this scheme was miraculously given the go ahead, yet now everyone is wondering how the residents and current council of Karratha have been left with such a mess.”

Karratha resident Dani Hage said local business owners, the backbone of the community, were being hit the hardest.

“Not all residents are earning big bucks from the mining industry,” she said.

“Most thought [the extra service charge] must have been a mistake; some land owners were slugged hundreds of thousands of dollars for work that will not be completed until 2017!”

“Commercial owners in Karratha are paying 420 per cent more than their neighbours in South Hedland for the same scheme.”

Robin Chapple MLC will be attending a rally this Saturday August 23 in Karratha to protest the cost of the PUPP scheme to residents and business owners.

For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255.





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