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Labor must listen to community and reject new Karratha FIFO camp

The Nationals WA have again called on the McGowan Government to dump Woodside’s bid for a 700-bed fly-in, fly-out camp in Karratha after a new survey revealed the community was strongly opposed to the facility.

The City of Karratha survey of 750 people found 78 per cent of respondents did not want the new donga camp in the middle of the town.

The Nationals Deputy Leader Jacqui Boydell said Karratha residents had sent a clear message to the Planning Minister, who is currently considering whether to grant approval for the Bay Village camp.

“Karratha is a modern, vibrant community – not a FIFO hub,” Ms Boydell said.

“The community does not want this donga camp on the doorstep of the CBD. What’s more, there is no need for it as Woodside have hundreds of homes sitting vacant in Karratha and local accommodation providers are well below full occupancy.”

A Karratha Districts Chamber of Commerce and Industry report last year found the Bay Village proposal would lead to a net loss of 69 local jobs, $4.8 million in local incomes and rip $6.6 million per year from the local economy.

Ms Boydell said she was stunned by the Member for Pilbara’s lack of advocacy on behalf of the community.

“Kevin Michel has been told repeatedly by his constituents that this donga camp is not on yet he continues to be the lap dog of the Premier, not daring to raise a voice in protest,” Ms Boydell said.

“Karratha needs an MP who will stand up for the community; not one who panders to the big resource companies and has no sway in his own party room.

“If Kevin Michel cannot get this camp taken off the agenda then he might as well resign because he will have proven himself to be an ineffective representative of the community.”

Last year The Nationals WA committed to ending any lease the McGowan Government signs with Woodside to allow the camp to go ahead.

“If the Member for Pilbara won’t stand up for Karratha families and businesses then The Nationals will,” Ms Boydell said.

The Nationals have a strong history of confronting major mining companies over housing workers in FIFO camps in established communities.

“It was The Nationals who stared down BHP and then-Premier Colin Barnett to ensure the company was unable to expand its Kurra Village FIFO camp in Newman,” Ms Boydell said.

“In 2015 it was The Nationals that stood our ground on behalf of the Karratha community when Woodside wanted to extend its lease on the 2000-bed Gap Ridge Village.”