Fears for lo­cal jobs as BHP plans off­shore steel work

Southern Telegraph - - Front Page - Stu­art Hor­ton

The Aus­tralian Man­u­fac­tur­ing Work­ers’ Union State sec­re­tary fears BHP Bil­li­ton’s plans to send struc­tural steel work off­shore will have a detri­men­tal ef­fect on Kwinana’s man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try.

Steve McCart­ney has writ­ten to BHP Bil­li­ton chief ex­ec­u­tive An­drew Macken­zie seek­ing an­swers about the com­pany’s plans to send 24,000 tonnes of steel work over­seas as part of its up­grades to the South Flank iron ore project.

Mr McCart­ney said past work in the in­dus­try in­di­cated such an amount of steel fabri­ca­tion be­ing sent over­seas would equate to about 2000 man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs be­ing lost to WA, in­clud­ing jobs that would have fil­tered to man­u­fac­tur­ing in Kwinana.

“Send­ing steel off­shore for a cheaper man­u­fac­tur­ing rate would be­tray lo­cal work­ers and en­cour­age a new min­ing tax levied on (BHP) op­er­a­tions,” he said.

“In the Premier’s first speech to the WA min­ing in­dus­try he de­clared that the State Gov­ern­ment would de­mand jobs for West Aus­tralians from in­dus­try in place of a min­ing tax.

“WA has a world-class man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try and the ca­pac­ity to han­dle ad­vanced steel fabri­ca­tion.”

Mr McCart­ney pointed to the re­cently opened Mata­garup Bridge — built in WA by West Aus­tralian work­ers — as an ex­am­ple of the in­dus­try’s abil­ity, and said suburbs close to lead­ing steel fabri­ca­tion and engi­neer­ing hubs had some of the high­est youth un­em­ploy­ment rates in the coun­try.

“Why are (BHP) not sup­port­ing up­stream and down­stream man­u­fac­tur­ing and train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for WA’s young peo­ple,” he said.

“BHP prof­its from a valu­able re­source that be­longs to all West Aus­tralians. The trade-off for ex­tract­ing this one-off re­source is lo­cal jobs and in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing in WA. BHP has ig­nored the Premier’s de­mands to put WA work­ers and WA jobs first.”

BHP said in re­sponse that the $4.7 bil­lion mine project would cre­ate about 2500 jobs dur­ing con­struc­tion and 600 on­go­ing op­er­a­tional roles. South Flank will re­place the Yandi mine, which is set to be de-com­mis­sioned, and is set to open in 2021.

De­spite AMWU’s fears, WA Trea­surer Ben Wy­att has wel­comed the project and called it a vote of con­fi­dence in WA’s longterm econ­omy.

He said it should give West Aus­tralians con­fi­dence in the value of the min­ing in­dus­try.

AMWU State sec­re­tary Steve McCart­ney in Kwinana.

WA Trea­surer Ben Wy­att.

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