SPA supports AMWU push to salvage local jobs from gas fire sale (OCT)

17 February 2009

Media Releases 2009
Oct 23, 2003

Sustainable Population Australia supports the “Make it Here or Jobs Disappear” rally.

Mr Jock Ferguson , Secretary of the WA branch of the AMWU is quoted in the West Australian 23 October 2003 as saying that the AMWU campaign,

“… aims to pressure developers and the Government into using local labour and content for upcoming resource projects. WA is one of the most productive mineral regions in the world. We have world-leading industries worth billions of dollars successfully operating within our State, yet West Australian workers still continue to fight for a chance to gain employment on major projects. The campaign aims to raise community awareness about the need for an improved industry policy which maximises job opportunities for West Australians. Without such a policy , the future for WA looks bleak indeed.”

For those of you who did not get around to reading the House of Representatives Standing Committee reports – A Sea of Lost Opportunities and A Sea of Indifference – the gas from the North west shelf has been sold off to foreign companies very cheaply with the promise that Australia would benefit from the construction phase involvment of Australian contracting companies and subcontractors. And benefit from the ‘skills transfer process’. The involvement of subcontractors and skills transfer did not occur. Instead our Skilled Migration program allowed the gas developers to bring in companies and workers from overseas. As these two Australian Government reports show the promised benefits also did not occur. In the first phase of development because the companies were allowed to get away with it; In the second phase because the lazy and ill informed bureaucrats. Some in WA but very largely in Canberra did not rouse off their butts. For example welders were brought in because no one set up training for Australian welders to get experience in high pressure, underwater welding. So much for skill transfer. It also seems that all the pressure washers used in phase 1 and phase 2 were imported because Australian suppliers were not given information as to the sizes and quality needed even though this information was provided to state and federal governments.

We are now entering phase 3 of this, the largest development project ever undertaken in Australia. Extra gas trains, methanol and fertiliser plants are on the drawing boards and starting construction. If Australians are to gain any real benefit from these huge developments, now is the time for action.

To give you just some idea of the value of the projects, just one, the highly contentious Gorgon project is worth $2billion to the Australian Government. WA scores $300million in total from this and pays out over $275million for infrastructure costs. As the project is approved we risk the most important nature reserve in WA (and I suspect Australia) in the process. Barrow island is the last refuge for a number of mammals and has a biota of unique organisms in its aquifers and caves.

You might also note that Jock Ferguson writes purely in terms of WA. Like many of us over here he seems to have given up all hope of anyone in the East having any awareness of just where in Australia export income comes from and where major consumption occurs. Or maybe no one gives a damn.

Perhaps I should point out that interstate migration into WA is almost totally determined by project development in this State. With 1.3 million Australian workers unemployed or underemployed it is not just West Australians who will miss out on employment. And of course there is the issue of profits to subcontracting companies.

I will only echo Jock Ferguson Without some action, the future of Australia looks bleak indeed.

Please act now.

Further information:

Dr Paddy Weaver
Victorian Branch
West Australian Branch
Sustainable Population Australia
Ph: 08 9386 1890



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