St Helens On Sunday 22nd May the Premier and Cabinet travelled to St Helens for a community forum. Premier Lara Giddings and Minister for Infrastructure David O’Byrne visited St Marys Pass on their way to St Helens to see at first-hand the progress of repairing the badly flood damaged road. St Marys Pass has been closed to enable the contractor, Hazell Bros to proceed with the repair work safely at six different sites. Mr O’Byrne described the work sites as very busy, steep and confined. “The contractor has planned this project carefully to ensure the most efficient combination of equipment and staff. This will ensure that work is completed as quickly and as safely as possible,” he said. “The entire St Marys Pass repairs are expected to be completed before the end of June, subject to weather and ongoing assessment as work progresses. “Work on Elephant Pass will begin once St Marys Pass has been reopened to ensure continued direct access from St Marys to the East Coast,” Mr O’Byrne said. While the Governments immediate priority is repairing and reopening the existing routes, the Government recognises the need for long-term, sustainable transport solutions for the east coast. Over the coming weeks the Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources will begin working with the Council on developing options for a more resilient access to the north east. The afternoon’s formalities were started with a performance by the St Helens district high school girls ensemble, and concluded by The Premier Lara Giddings, and the Mayor of the Break O’Day Council, Robert Legge co-signing a partnership agreement setting out a 10 year frame work for sustainable development. Ms Giddings said the agreement, which is the third agreement to be signed between the two, would ensure that the priorities of State Government agencies and the Council aligned. “Partnership Agreements have proved to be a successful way we can work together with local councils to make sure the priorities of the local community are the focus of all our work,” The previous partnership agreements have delivered financial assistance for dredging the St Helens barway, upgrading walking tracks in the area, developing a business plan for the expansion of the St Helens History Room and securing $1 million to remove sand from Blanch Beach. This new agreement represents a collaborative approach to ensure that future development in the Break O’Day municipality is undertaken in a strategic and integrated manner. It will focus specifically on the development of a Municipal Management Plan, and how State Government agencies will provide input into this. The Plan will focus on development and job creation, community wellbeing and sustainable environmental policies and practices, over a 10-year period. In particular, it will allow discussion to progress on how the State Government’s election commitment of $50,000 can be spent to investigate upgrades to the St Helens airstrip. The afternoon’s appointments and the Cabinet meeting with the Break O’Day Council on Monday 23rd May involved productive discussion regarding the future of the major roads and health services in the north east.