Tuesday, 25 November 2008
Grey Electorate: Andamooka
I rise today to share with you something of the history of the town of Andamooka and the plight that it faces at the moment. Andamooka has a rich opal-mining history and has been a producer of some of Australia’s best opals for the best part of a hundred years. But it is currently under incredible strain, insomuch as it is in the shadow of a much bigger neighbour, and a neighbour that is due to get much bigger in the near future—that is, Roxby Downs. Andamooka is struggling with the pace of change. At last census it had a population of 500, but the estimates are that there are now 900 people living in the town, once you include the miners who do not list it as their place of residence.
Andamooka is under the governance of Outback Areas Community Development Trust, which cooperates with the Andamooka Progress and Opal Miners Association. The outback areas trust supports 36 progress associations across the north of South Australia, with a total budget of about $2 million. You can see it probably does not go that far. The Outback Areas Community Development Trust supplies APOMA—the progress association—with 0.5 of an administrative position and some local road maintenance. APOMA is reaching breaking point. It has limited funding, is staffed almost entirely by volunteers and has no ability to rate its residents. The problems of Andamooka go far beyond the ethic of volunteerism. It has an unregulated, non-compliant dump, which bursts spontaneously into flame from time to time, with smoke drifting over the town and over the school. There is a considerable amount of industrial waste coming from outside the town being dumped inside the dump. There are problems with the development process, the water supply, the airstrip, the effluent disposal and answering public inquiry. The town is in desperate need of a town manager.
More important is the confrontation on the social front as this great change sweeps across the town. There is an approved single man’s accommodation for shift workers on one side of the school with a pub on the other which serves the local shift worker trade. There are rumours of an attempt to establish a brothel about 100 metres up the road. I can tell you that these services will be supplied somewhere. There is a planned 8,000-man camp 12 kilometres up the road.
All of these things need managing. They need help now. They need help from the South Australian government. They need the ability to rate their township; they need the ability to govern their township. The South Australian government claimed to have solved many of the problems of expansion in Andamooka by regulating for a minimum block size, but the problems are continuing and I am appealing to the South Australian government to step up to the plate and help the town of Andamooka.