Council calls wrong decision on State Government camp approval

The City of Karratha has condemned the State Government’s decision to allow Woodside Energy to build Transient Workforce Accommodation in Karratha. 

Premier Mark McGowan announced the approval of a 30-year land lease for the camp earlier today, subject to a memorandum of understanding.

The development will see a 700-bed camp built on the outskirts of town. The Premier has linked this project to the potential Browse and Scarborough gas projects. 

While the City is extremely keen to see Browse and Scarborough gas fields processed through the Burrup gas processing facilities, the application to the government for this proposal did not mention these projects and, to date, there has been no commitment from Woodside to progress with these initiatives. 

City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said that approving the camp on this basis is putting the cart before the horse. He did welcome the announcement regarding Woodside’s local jobs portal but indicated that this commitment to local jobs seems to be at odds with the decision to allow a new, very large camp to be built for FIFO employees. 

“This camp approval has disregarded the best interests of residents and the community will be disappointed with this decision,” Cr Long said.

“Housing workers in such a segregated manner is old school thinking and will result in poor outcomes for the community.  Where FIFO is necessary, our desire is to integrate FIFO workers into the community with quality, permanent buildings near to town facilities; much like what has been achieved by Rio Tinto in Wickham,” he said.

The TWA proposal was overwhelmingly rejected by the community in a survey conducted at the end of last year with 80 per cent of respondents preferring operational workers to be accommodated residentially in town based dwellings.

The City did offer better solutions but they were rejected. To date, Woodside has refused to issue a copy of the plans and drawings so that Council can properly assess the proposal.

Research commissioned by the Karratha Districts Chamber of Commerce and Industry indicates that the decision brings with it a net loss of 69 local jobs and takes $4.8 million in local incomes and $6.6 million per year from the local economy; figures which City of Karratha residents found unacceptable in the recent survey.

Cr Long noted that Council was doing its best to grow local employment and Woodside did not demonstrate to Council a need for this village at this time, particularly for a 30-year term. 

Council will continue to advocate for local community in this matter, working with the State Government and Woodside to try to ensure the best possible outcomes for residents and the local community from this poor decision.