In an on-going dispute between the state government and the Port Augusta City Council regarding the foul stench coming from Bird Lake, a Steven Marshall led opposition has come out smelling like roses.
Pending the election in March, the state Liberals have guaranteed $3.2 million towards remediation of the aptly named ‘Lake Knockout’.
Liberal Stuart MP and opposition spokesperson Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the additional funding will guarantee a resolution as soon as possible.
For too long the Weatherill Labor Government has treated the people of Port Augusta like second class citizens.Dan van Holst Pellekaan
“The stench of Bird Lake in Port Augusta is affecting the quality of life of our residents, damaging the town’s reputation and hurting our local tourism industry and it’s unacceptable that the Weatherill Labor government allows this to continue.”
The opposition frontbencher was scathing in his comments, accusing Labor of ignoring problems outside of metropolitan Adelaide.
“This is a Council responsibility and unfortunately they aren’t in a position to fund the necessary work, but we will not leave the people of Port Augusta in the lurch,” Mr van Holst Pellekaan said.
In November the Weatherill government announced a $1.6 million grant to the Port Augusta City Council on the condition that they foot the rest of the bill, or take out a loan to fund the other half.
Mayor Sam Johnson has maintained a firm stance that council are not to blame for the contamination of the lake.
“We had an independent report that says the power station contributed to the contamination of Bird Lake,” Mr Johnson said.
“If I lived next to a service station and the service station’s fuel tank busted and leaked underground into my front yard – because its my front yard, am I responsible to clean it or is the service station?”
Employment Minister Kyam Maher welcomed the announcement.
“Essentially what Liberal and Labor are doing is the same thing, that the state will pay for part of it and the federal will pay for part of it, which is what both the government and local council have been saying all along,” Mr Maher said.
“We’ve had a number of discussions with federal government and we share the local council’s disappointment that the federal government have not done anything on this as of yet, but it looks optimistic that the federal government will come to the party from the comments made this morning.”
While Mr van Holst Pellekaan said he will seek further assistance from the federal government regarding this matter, he reiterated that a Liberal elected government will fund the $3.2 million, even if the federal does not contribute.
“I don’t want to be wishy-washy about it, it is not contingent upon the federal government’s contributing money, whether that happens or not we will make sure it happens if we are elected to govern in March,” Mr van Holst Pellekaan said.