Barnett too gutless to stand up for Oakajee Jobs

Colin Barnett’s credibility as a Premier who stands up for WA has been shattered, following revelations his government signed an agreement requiring infrastructure for one of the state’s largest industrial projects to be manufactured in China.

Murchison Metals Executive Chairman Paul Kopejtka was quoted in today’s edition of the Financial Review saying that the Barnett Government required it to build key infrastructure for the Oakajee Port and Rail Project in China.  He said the infrastructure included rail cars, fabricated steel structures, engineering and construction services.

AMWU National Secretary, Dave Oliver, said the Liberal Party’s do-nothing approach to manufactuing policy had taken a dangerous turn by actively assisting foreign countries with their manufacturing policies.

“With the right policies, the mining boom is also an opportunity to create manufacturing jobs in Australia,” said Dave Oliver.

“If the attitude of a state premier is that work should be explicitly made available to overseas companies ahead of Australia, then we need federal policies to assist Australian manufacturing more than ever.”

“WA has plenty of rocks in the ground, but it would be better off without a Premier with rocks in his head.”

The Federal Government has policy including the Australian Industry Participation plan. The WA Government should be applying similar principles to its projects.

“Governments in other countries are standing up for their manufacturing industries and seeking special arrangements – such as the one secured by China from the Liberal Government in WA."

AMWU WA Secretary Steve McCartney said manufacturing jobs were fast becoming WA’s biggest export industry under the Liberals.

“Here we have another example of Colin Barnett saying one thing and doing another,” Mr McCartney said.

“On the one hand, the Premier says our local fabrication workshops will be full as a result of State’s large resources projects, while, on the other hand, he is signing off on agreements requiring the fabrication work to be done in China.

“While the Premier portrays himself as someone who stands up for WA, he goes weak at the knees when it comes to protecting the interests of West Australian Workers.

“Colin Barnett needs to stand up for WA and take real action to ensure that the Oakajee Port Project delivers jobs and opportunities for local manufacturing workers.”

Since the Barnett Government came to office, Western Australia’s major oil and gas companies have increasingly had their major plant and equipment manufactured overseas, leaving many Perth workshops without work.

“This project could have delivered thousands of jobs to the West Australian Engineering and Fabrication industry resulting in hundreds of apprenticeships for young people to help us to prepare for the boom. Instead we are left with no skills development and no jobs.”

Contact Person: Steve McCartney
Contact Email: news [at]

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