FEDERAL Opposition Leader Tony Abbott today vowed to create economic conditions to help the stalled Olympic Dam mine proceed after blaming the State and Federal governments for it being put it on hold by BHP Billiton.
However, Mineral Resources Minister Tom Koutsantonis accused Mr Abbott of "over-spruiking" by suggesting the Coalition could get Olympic Dam expanded, saying Mr Abbott would have to change international conditions.
Mr Abbott said he could not guarantee the project would proceed under the Coalition but said: "I can promise there will be no obstacles from government that will impede its progress."
"I want to give the Olympic Dam expansion a chance," Mr Abbott said. "It is not on hold because of the quality of the ore body, lack of dynamism in South Australia or a lack of work ethic, it is on hold essentially because State and Commonwealth Labor governments have not created a climate in which this kind of investment can go ahead."
He also repeated promises to dump the carbon and mining taxes, put the budget "back in the black" and restore border security in a speech heavy on hope but light on specifics, such as how to fund the changes.
Mr Koutsantonis responded, saying: "He needs to change business conditions internationally, not just in Australia - what will get Olympic Dam over the line is not conditions in Australia or South Australia, it is the price of copper and uranium and the development of new technology to reach one of the most difficult ore bodies in the world.
"Who is over-spruiking now?"
As Transport Minister, Mr Koustantonis also accused Mr Abbott of 'short changing SA' with his $500 million Darlington interchange promise, noting it would have to be approved by Infrastructure Australia unlike $4 billion in road funding promised for NSW, Victoria and Queensland.
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