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Spencer Gulf and Outback Community Engagement Team

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN ( 15:12 :53 ): My question is directed to the Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation. Can the minister advise the chamber of the make-up of the Spencer Gulf and outback community engagement team?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) ( 15:13 :06 ): I thank the honourable member for his important question and his very strong interest in manufacturing areas. Alinta Energy announced last Thursday, as many honourable members will know, its intention to close its operations at Leigh Creek. Alinta announced that it intends to close the coalmine and both the power stations—Playford B and Northern power station—in Port Augusta by March 2018, if not earlier.

Alinta, over the coming weeks, will look at its plans and its needs and decide on a closure plan, and inform its workers and the government. As a government, our foremost thoughts are with the workers, their families and the communities affected. Leigh Creek has a very proud history of being the engine of manufacturing in South Australia through the coalmine over many decades, and I was fortunate to visit Leigh Creek and the coalmine earlier this week and speak to many of the workers, some who have worked decades and some who have been in the Leigh Creek area and with the coalmine for a couple of generations.

When Alinta made its announcement on Thursday morning last week, the government that afternoon moved to establish an Upper Spencer Gulf and outback community engagement team. The next day being Friday, we had government officials on the ground in both Port Augusta and Leigh Creek talking to the community.

A number of government officials have set up an office in a shopfront in the Leigh Creek township. They are spending this week and the coming days and weeks talking to a whole lot of the progress associations, the Outback Communities Authority and interested businesses and groups about the establishment of that engagement team.

There are a number of government officials on the engagement team at the moment, but that will include community representatives and business representatives from those areas over the coming days and weeks. When there are more people involved with the engagement team, I will be happy to bring back an answer as to who else is on that engagement team as we progress over time.

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