SA Premier to step down after Olympic Dam expansion finalised

South Australian Premier Mike Rann has announced he will step down from the position, but not before the issues at Olympic Dam are sorted.

He will hand the position down to Education Minister Jay Weatherill following weeks of removal moves against him.

Rann has now announced he will go, but first wants to oversee the negotiation of the multi million dollar expansion at Olympic Dam.

Party leaders have been pushing for an orderly transition for the Premier, and had expected him to step down in the winter break.

Rann broke his silence on the issues when he announced his intentions to complete the $20 million mine agreement before he steps down.

"I have always believed it is for the parliamentary party to choose the leader," Rann said in a statement

"A decision has now been made that Jay Weatherill is the person who will succeed me.

"I think the party should be commended for coming to a consensus view about who is best equipped to lead the party into the future, unlike our opponents the Liberal Party, who have been in constant turmoil over the question of leadership."

Rann is in India on a week-long trade mission, and said he make a further announcement when he returns.

Issues at Arkaroola

Other issues for the SA government have also been revealed, with problems arising from the mining ban placed on Arkaroola.

The state government placed the restrictions on mining in the area in July, but mining companies had already paid exploration fees for the site.

Traditional owners are also claiming they were not consulted before the announcement was made Adnyamathanha woman Jillian K Marsh told the ABC.

The Adnyamathanha people are calling for official acknowledgement from the government over the ruling.

Last year Marsh published a 334 page thesis for the University of Adelaide Department of Geographical and Environmental Studies in May titled "A critical analysis of decision-making protocols used in approving a commercial mining licence for the Beverly Uranium Mine in Adnyamathanha country: Toward effective Indigenous participation in caring for cultural resources".

"The issues that have been raised by the elders are primarily of heritage protection and recognition of the area of being of spiritual significance," Marsh told the ABC.

"This is something that does not seem to be apparent in the statements that have been released so far."

Last Friday Rann released a statement announcing Arkaroola would be given ‘unprecedented protection’ and legislation will be created to protect the area from mining activity.

“We will have a period of consultation with stakeholders in the area, including the Adnyamathanha traditional owners, as well as lease holders, before introducing our Bill to protect the area forever before the end of the year,” the statement reads.

The Premier says his government representatives have held discussions with the Adnyamathanha people “on a number of occasions,” but the traditional land owners are unhappy with their treatment.

"A lot of the elders felt quite hurt that in the statement that was issued by Premier Rann that there was mention of the purple-spotted gudgeon and the spidery wattle but only a very, very vague mention of traditional owners," Marsh said.

"No mention of the spiritual significance, or why it was spiritually significant."

Mining company Marathon Resources is currently dealing with conflicting messages about mining in the area, where it currently holds government approved mining exploration contracts.

Marathon chairman Peter Williams told the ABC several confusing statements have been made following the announcement of the ban.

"We have never put it forward, and in any event it would not have been passed by state and federal EIS requirements," he said.

Williams sais the company is confused by claims the lands have been protected from open cut mining.

The company has invested more than $15 million for exploration work in the Arkaroola area and Williams said Arkaroola is disappointed with the actions of the government which have halted what it believed would be a project benefitting the state and Adnyamathanha people.

"You’d hope that every state in this country would expect that if someone was prepared to invest and do some exploration in accordance with the law that the state has, that they’d be encouraged to go to the next step."

Image: BHP Billiton



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