The West Australian


PM praises the WA miners as he leaves door open for China advice from Forrest


Morrison has left the door open to enlisting billionair­e miner Andrew Forrest to help him resolve tensions with China.

The Prime Minister toured the magnate’s Christmas Creek iron ore mine in the Pilbara yesterday and stood alongside him at a press conference for the first time since Mr Forrest was accused of blindsidin­g the Coalition by inviting a senior Chinese official to a government COVID media conference last year.

Praising Mr Forrest as a “pioneer”, Mr Morrison said there was “no hatchet to bury” despite tensions over the event with Health Minister Greg Hunt.

The billionair­e, who sells most of his iron ore into China, has been outspoken on the need for Australia to repair the frayed relationsh­ip with Beijing.

Asked if Mr Forrest could be recruited to help Canberra, Mr Morrison said he and the minScott er had “worked together for a long time”.

“Whether it is on the issues you mentioned or any other issues, I like to work with people who get things done,” Mr Morrison said.

He said Mr Forrest, WA’s second richest person with a net worth of $29 billion, had updated him regularly on his travels overseas. “We’ve been on the phone regularly to each other,” Mr Morrison said.

Inspecting the Christmas Creek mine which produces 60 million tonnes of iron ore each

year, Mr Morrison praised WA’s mining industry saying it had “kept the nation running during COVID” and was owed a debt of gratitude by the rest of Australia.

“Thank you for the amazing job you’ve done,” he said. “The (iron ore) earnings have kept the economy going.”

The Prime Minister held some iron ore alongside Mr Forrest and member for Durack Melissa Price.

He joked he would “let this one get on the ship because it’s worth too much”.

Mr Morrison also received a presentati­on from Mr Forrest about the miner’s green energy plans and toured Fortescue’s solar panel farm with 166,000 solar panels.

He said Mr Forrest’s green push had some “brave ideas” but they were what was needed.

“We are seeing the beginning here of something really exciting,” Mr Morrison said. “It’s really groundbrea­king. “The word pioneer is thrown around a lot but it is one that is comfortabl­e on Andrew Forrest’s shoulders.”

Mr Forrest said Australia needed to move quickly on green hydrogen because our biggest competitor was “the sovereignt­y of China”.

The Prime Minister will today travel to cyclone-ravaged Kalbarri as one of his last stops during his trip west.

Last night he told The West Australian he wanted to listen to the locals on the ground and hear what they need to rebuild.

“My visit will be an opportunit­y to see firsthand and listen to those who have had their livelihood­s and homes destroyed and hopefully provide them with some support, comfort and encouragem­ent,” he said.

“The Federal Government has activated the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance to support those who have been heavily affected by the cyclone.”

Ms Price said she was proud of “our Kalbarri community”.

“They have shown such great spirit and determinat­ion to get through this disaster together. I am so grateful to our defence personnel,” she said.

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