Kalgoorlie Liberal MP Kyran O’Donnell has called for the State Government to apply the “common sense Act’’ to guarantee the much-needed $3.25 million upgrade of the Norseman Airstrip.
The Shire of Dundas has been hit with an unexpected $182,000 “construction material’’ royalty on 250,000 tonnes of fill needed to raise the level of the airstrip by a metre, to make it usable year-round.
The airstrip upgrade, which has been in the planning for several years, has received $3.25 million in State and Federal funding after it was approved under the Regional Airport Upgrade program.
The low-lying, unsealed airstrip serves the town and is used for emergency Royal Flying Doctor Service flights year-round but becomes unuseable after rain.
Shire president Doug Stead wrote to Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston asking him to waive the $182,000 royalty, which he says will put the project in jeopardy.
Mr Stead told the Kalgoorlie Miner: “The shire doesn’t have that amount of spare cash floating around.”
Mr Johnston wrote back, saying: “I have been advised by the Department of Mines and Petroleum that rock produced and utilised for the airstrip project will attract the specific rate royalty for construction materials.
“I do not believe there are special circumstances that would warrant a royalty rebate in this situation. I wish you every success in the Norseman airstrip upgrade project.”
Mr O’Donnell plans to raise the issue in State Parliament this week and try to meet Mr Johnston and urge him to reconsider.
“I am going to bring this up in Parliament this week. I just don’t think Minister Johnston has been given the full information,” Mr O’Donnell said.
“The Government was never going to get any money for this dirt, leftover rock from the mines, which can be used for the airstrip.
“It is not costing the Government a cent and it is helping the community. Everything is funded except for this inconsequential piece of paperwork (royalty fee). This is a case where Mr Johnston can apply the CSA, the common sense Act.”
But Mr Johnston told the Kalgoorlie Miner: “There is unfortunately no wriggle room in the current regulations regarding royalties paid for material if it leaves the mine that produced it. This extends to the type of construction material the Shire of Dundas would like to accept from the local mines.
“Under the mining regulations, only mines that produce the material are allowed to use it for construction at their sites without a royalty being paid.
“The State Government has already recognised the benefits of this project and has contributed $1.75 million towards it, with another $1.5 million from the Commonwealth Government.”
Federal Liberal MP Rick Wilson has also called on the minister to review his decision and guarantee the much-needed airstrip upgrade goes ahead.