Unions not sold on new port proposal
FREMANTLE Port unionists made their presence felt at a public meeting about a new port claimed to create about 90,000 jobs and new lithiumbased industries in Kwinana last week.
“You know what you do when you privatise, as it means casualisation of work, it means foreign workers coming in so you can make more profits,” Maritime Union of Australia WA secretary Chris Cain said.
About 30 unionists were among the 200-strong crowd at Ken Jackman Hall for the second meeting organised by the new port lobby Western Harbours Alliance.
There is no proposal for a private port, but the State Government’s Westport Taskforce is gathering all information about freight and logistics in the southwest.
At the end of next year, the taskforce’s strategy will include whether any new container and bulk goods port with a 22.5m-deep channel should be built south of shipyards in Henderson.
“The MUA have got funny ideas of which jobs will be impacted by this proposal, which represents creating jobs now and into the future, and they’re either ‘get onboard or get out’,” Kwinana MLA Roger Cook said.
Mr Cook backs Town of Kwinana and Kwinana Industries Council studies’ claims a new second port and attracted industries, including processed lithium exports, could generate 37,300 direct and 49,600 indirect jobs.
Answering union critics of the claimed numbers, KIC director Chris Oughton said they were based on developing industry on the unused twothirds of coastal land designated for trade.
Tianqi Lithium Australia general manager Phil Thick already employs about 35 people and anticipates a staff of 180 when the world’s largest lithium processing plant costing $400 million is finished on the Kwinana industrial strip next year.
Tianqi Lithium Australia GM Phil Thick, Kwinana Industries Council director Chris Oughton, Kwinana Mayor Carol Adams, WHA chairwoman Kim Dravnieks and Westport Taskforce chair Nicole Lockwood.