Gillard advises jobless to look to the west

31 Mar, 2010 04:42 AM
Talking local job opportunities ... the Deputy Prime Minister met Chevron LNG workers on Barrow Island yesterday. Photo: Glen McCurtayne
Talking local job opportunities ... the Deputy Prime Minister met Chevron LNG workers on Barrow Island yesterday. Photo: Glen McCurtayne

GO WEST, advised Julia Gillard, in a safety vest and steel-capped boots, at the construction site of Australia's largest resources project, about 20 minutes flying-time off the coast of the Pilbara.

The Deputy Prime Minister has been in Western Australia this week, meeting industry chiefs and touring the state's booming liquefied natural gas developments.

But the benefits of those projects would not concentrate solely in the west, Ms Gillard said, suggesting that those down on their luck in places like Sydney and Melbourne might think about becoming involved.

''As we move from the global financial crisis into economic recovery we are expecting that recovery to be different in different parts of the country,'' Ms Gillard said yesterday.

Some areas still needed help.

''We believe part of that is about encouraging labour mobility, talking to people about opportunities in other parts of the nation.''

The point was already being driven home by local job co-ordinators. ''They are there talking about local job opportunities but they can also be there making sure people understand the opportunities around the nation,'' she said.

Ms Gillard's tour yesterday took her to about $50 billion worth of LNG projects. First visit was the $43 billion Gorgon development, in the early stages of construction on Barrow Island, about 70 kilometres off the Pilbara Coast.

Barrow has been home to a commercial oil operation for about 40 years. But at the moment it takes some imagination to grasp how the island, a nondescript splodge of scrub and red dirt in the Indian Ocean, will house the world's most sophisticated LNG site by 2014.

From the ocean floor, gas will be pumped 180 kilometres to the island, where it will be converted to liquid, impurities removed, pumped underground, and then shipped to Asia.

There is little there now but shrink-wrapped housing blocks, and tractors levelling ground as an early downpayment on the building to come. But, as Chevron Australia's managing director, Roy Krzywosinski, said after showing Ms Gillard around, the project has already committed $7 billion worth of contracts since it was opened in September. And economic modelling predicts a $30 billion boost to the Australian economy.

Chatting to construction workers on the island, Ms Gillard was suitably impressed. She commented on the varied accents of those she met - Welsh like her father in one instance, proud Scottish in another.

She also met workers at Woodside's Pluto project, recently the venue of illegal strike action. Ms Gillard, who lunched with the company's chief executive, Don Voelte, said one worker raised the industrial action with her.

''I had the same conversation with him as I've had publicly, which is the rules are the rules and you've got to stick by them.''

At Barrow Ms Gillard announced $350,000 in funding to help train engineers.

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31/03/2010 5:36:46 AM, on Farm Weekly

Is she going to pay us to relocate there!
Ron N
1/04/2010 8:17:40 AM, on Farm Weekly

If the Govts, both Federal and State, had paid a little more than lip service to development of infrastructure, and adequate land release in the area, then maybe people would be more interested in moving there. Karratha is a cultural hole, with a 100% work and money-oriented mindset, and land prices and rents that look like Monaco-style pricing. Anyone who goes there, has to cope with a lack of accommodation, exorbitant prices for everything, virtually no land available, and nothing to do except work 14 hrs a day, and then collapse into bed. The distortions in the Karratha lifestyle and costs, need to be addressed with intensive planning, increased land release, more public housing, and substantial investment in cultural and lifestyle improvement schemes, before the area becomes attractive enough for people to want to live there, full time.


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