Community Affairs 25 February 2011
Senator SIEWERT—Can we just have a quick update of where Yalata is up to? You knew that was coming, didn’t you?
Ms Powell—I can tell you that there has now been agreement to land in Yalata and we have been talking to the local community about how we might structure a funding agreement to enable an Opal fuel facility to go ahead there. So there has been massive progress since we last spoke.
Senator SIEWERT—That is very good news. Do you have a time line yet when you think we can get some action there?
Ms Powell—We have currently got the first draft of a proposal from them. It will take a bit of time to get the time lines right and agreed and to sort out the costs, but we are hoping that the facility will be operational towards the end of this year.
Senator SIEWERT—Fantastic. The funding has already been committed for that project, hasn’t it?
Ms Powell—That is right.
Senator SIEWERT—How much was that again, sorry?
Ms Corbett—We have not finalised an amount but we are in negotiations with them about the amount. We
have indicated that we will certainly have some capacity within our Opal roll-out project to support them and we will work as hard as we can to meet the costs of that.
Senator SIEWERT—I would like to ask about the further roll-out plans around Kalgoorlie. I understand that BP has said that they can supply Opal fuel there by 31 March?
Ms Corbett—That is correct.
Senator SIEWERT—They are on track for that?
Ms Corbett—They are on track for that.
Senator SIEWERT—That is very good news. The Rabbit Flat Roadhouse is closed, I understand it?
Ms Powell—It closed on 31 December.
Senator SIEWERT—Excellent. Have the other two changed their minds yet?
Ms Corbett—We actually still have a number of stations that have refused, but in this area we are working on them and we have a few sticking points. We are working closely with BP. We have appealed to BP, who are very sympathetic, and it may be that BP can ensure that there is no longer a delivery of regular unleaded fuel in the area. So that will be, we hope, an additional lever to get the outcome we have been looking for.
Senator SIEWERT—Do we have a time line for that?
Ms Corbett—No, we do not have a time line but we will continue to work on it.
Senator SIEWERT—How are we going with the progress of the roll-out in the northern areas of the Northern Territory and West Arnhem? I understand there were some difficulties in some locations. Have they been dealt with?
Ms Powell—In terms of Kakadu, we have currently got three stations completely committed, which are already supplying Opal, and the third one will supply Opal as soon as their current storage tanks are low enough to be able to fill up with Opal. We are working closely with the remaining four suppliers in the area, who have a positive disposition but have not completely committed. They are watching what happens but they are positive about it.
Senator SIEWERT—Again, do we have time lines for that?
Ms Corbett—For the four fuel retail sites outside the park, we do not have firm time line commitments but we are regularly in touch with them and an officer will be visiting them again within the next fortnight. The three that are committed have always been the lead three, and the other four have given us in the past indications that once the stations inside the park are all delivering Opal, they will come on board. We will be following up with them and expecting them to stick to those commitments.
Senator SIEWERT—Where we are up to with the Opal roll -out in Kimberley, Western Australia?
Ms Corbett—I have fewer details there. We have three Indigenous communities in the south and one in the north that are designated regions and are receiving Opal. We have some distribution issues because of the distance between the production point and the Kimberley. There are still currently no sites receiving Opal in Halls Creek or Fitzroy Crossing, which is a shame, but we are continuing to work on that. Our current budget allocation allows us to establish storage facilities for Opal in Darwin and we are proceeding with negotiations around that. There is some procurement activity underway at the moment and we hope to be able to give clearer responses about time lines by the time the committee next meets.
Senator SIEWERT—Thank you; that is good. I am glad you can do that. As you said, there has been money allocated for the new storage facilities in Darwin, hasn’t there?
Senator SIEWERT—Will that carry over into next year’s budget if not expended this budget?
Ms Corbett—Because it is tied up with the procurements it is best I not be too clear about that. We will have capacity to work into the next financial year however, if that is the assurance that you are seeking?
Senator SIEWERT—Yes. Do I understand then that we cannot resolve the Halls Creek and Fitzroy Crossing issue until that issue is resolved?
Ms Corbett—That is our current understanding, unfortunately, which means that we cannot move on those locations in the shorter term.
Senator SIEWERT—Are there plans or an ability to be able to roll out Opal in the major centres in the Kimberley?
Ms Corbett—Not at this point. It would require road-train transport from South Australia and that is not feasible at this point we have been told.
Senator SIEWERT—I mean, once we have got the storage facilities?
Ms Corbett—Once the storage facilities are in, yes, then certainly we can extend the roll-out to other locations in the Kimberley.
Senator SIEWERT—Is funding available to do that?
Ms Corbett—How far our funding will go will also be tied up with the success of our current procurement activities.
Ms Powell—There is funding for the fuel subsidy in the East Kimberleys.
Senator SIEWERT—Yes, I am aware of that. I am thinking of some of the bigger towns in the Kimberley so we can do what we have been doing in Central Australia in terms of getting everybody to be supplying nonsniffable fuel.