Gulf leader hails federal Budget

PLEA: Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson urged the state government to buy electricity from a proposed solar-generation plant in the Upper Spencer Gulf city.

PLEA: Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson urged the state government to buy electricity from a proposed solar-generation plant in the Upper Spencer Gulf city.

Upper Spencer Gulf mayors welcomed a “strong focus” on regions in last week’s federal Budget.

Chairman of the Spencer Gulf Cities Association, Mayor Sam Johnson, of Port Augusta, said that despite criticism by the state government about lack of project funding for metropolitan Adelaide, there were some significant initiatives for the country. 

“We were happy to see a commitment of $472 million for regional infrastructure projects,” he said, noting this is on top of $20 million Regional Jobs and Investment funding specifically earmarked for the Upper Spencer Gulf and $71 million being invested in expanding facilities and infrastructure for the Cultana Training Area between Whyalla and Port Augusta.

“From a local government perspective, we are happy to have an additional $20 million supplementary road funding on top of our existing $170 million allocation for local roads.

He said the allocation for a baseload solar thermal power plant in Port Augusta was a highlight.

“This initiative has been talked up and promised by the Prime Minister, the Premier and both state and federal energy ministers in the past two years, but with no tangible commitment to funding,” he said.

“We are grateful to SA Senator Nick Xenophon for being the catalyst that has finally seen the $110 million commitment from the federal government locked into the budget.

“It has given our community a tremendous boost. We have been planning and fighting for so long to transition from a coal-based community to one at the cutting edge of solar-storage-based renewable energy technology – we are now very close to seeing that reality.

“We now need the state government to play its part and commit to buying its electricity needs from this new facility.” 

Port Augusta had a boost last Tuesday when OZ Minerals said the city was the “front-runner” for a processing plant linked to a proposed mine at Carrapateena in the Far North.

The company has earmarked a possible site.

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