The State Government will support Leigh Creek to remain open for business beyond July 2018 providing essential services for about 700 people both in the town and surrounding communities.

Negotiations between the State Government and Alinta are continuing for the Outback Communities Authority (OCA) to take over operational management of Leigh Creek from 1 January 2017 with essential services and buildings to be maintained, including those for commercial use such as the caravan park and tavern whilst the buildings are offered through an Expression of Interest process to operators in the second half of 2016.

Maintenance of essential town services and assets includes water, wastewater, roads and aerodrome and municipal services such as the rubbish dump, footpaths, parks and gardens, barbecues, public toilets, street lighting and other recreational facilities including the swimming pool, ovals, gymnasium, and sports stadium.

Current Leigh Creek residents will be encouraged to stay in the town with the intention to sell housing to new residents by 1 January 2018. Of the current housing stock, some dwellings are intended to be kept and upgraded for current use, other dwellings to be retained for future use and depending on future demand there will be a progressive program to demolish unrequired dwellings.

At this stage, the phased demolition of dwellings is intended to be conducted over a three year period with annual reviews undertaken to account for any progress or development in the region and to determine if additional demolition is required.

30 recommendations have been made to the State Government to maintain and revitalise the township which are outlined in a report released today by former South Australian Education and Tourism Minister Jane Lomax-Smith, who led the Request for Information process.

Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Kyam Maher made the announcement in Leigh Creek today to support the community affected by the closure of Alinta Energy’s Leigh Creek coal mine.

The Government will appoint a Transition Manager to develop commercial and marketing opportunities in the town and region, and continue to consider the recommendations in the report.

For more information and a copy of the report visit leighcreekfutures.sa.gov.au

Background

Key findings of the Leigh Creek Futures report aimed at assisting the town’s transition and return to Government on 1 January 2017 include:

  • The Leigh Creek Township will need to continue providing services to about 700 people in both the town and surrounding communities.
  • Maintaining government services in Leigh Creek and retaining its major infrastructure to allow several longer-term proposals involving the mine site and town facilities to progress.
  • Establishing a regional service town model to involve a staged process over 12 months from government takeover to an open township with housing made available to current residents initially.
  • Establishing a community management structure for Leigh Creek ensuring involvement of the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association and the surrounding community.
  • Consideration given to establishing a dedicated position to focus on marketing and developing commercial opportunities for Leigh Creek and the surrounding area.

The Request for Information (RFI) process – led by Dr Jane Lomax-Smith – generated 34 responses from individuals, businesses, institutions, and community groups from Leigh Creek region and beyond who were interested in ensuring a viable future for the town.

More than 100 technical experts across government and specialist industries have assisted in considering the ideas submitted.

The natural, cultural, geological and palaeontological resources of the region should also be optimised with Leigh Creek acting as a key tourism base for visitors.

The recommendations from the Request for Information process are being provided to Minister Maher as part of a 90–day project following a Community Cabinet meeting in March this year.

Quotes attributable to Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Kyam Maher

The State Government is committed to the people of Leigh Creek and providing support to help secure the social and economic future of the township.

The State Government is already acting on some of the recommendations in Dr Lomax-Smith’s report and will continue to consider the in the report to ensure the Upper Spencer Gulf and outback region has a sustainable future.

We will continue to explore economically viable options to help the town thrive that capitalise on the region’s environment, cultural, and heritage advantages.

Quotes attributable to Dr Jane Lomax-Smith, author of the Leigh Creek Futures report

Ongoing partnerships between government, business, local and surrounding communities will underpin the sustainable future of Leigh Creek and must be achieved with special reference to the Adnyamathanha traditional owners.

There is an opportunity for Leigh Creek to be a model of best practice in management of economic change in a remote community that has been challenged by the demise of coal mining.