Katter goes off at Rinehart s foreign worker plans
Katter goes off at Rinehart's foreign worker plans

UPDATE 2.30pm Greedy resource companies are lying about the need to import foreign workers into Australia, outspoken federal independent MP Bob Katter says.

The Queensland MP also told Fairfax Radio in Perth today that iron ore magnate Gina Rinehart wanted her employees "to work for nothing".

Claims of a skills shortage by the resources sector were "farcical", he said, and the world's richest woman was using it as an excuse to import cut-priced labour for her Roy Hill iron ore project in the Pilbara.

"It is absolutely outrageous what Gina Rinehart is doing," Mr Katter said.

He said he'd recently spoken with three mining companies that had vowed to "smash unionism" in what he claimed was a bid to lower wages.

"Smash unions means we want people working for nothing."

Mr Katter said the companies claimed they needed to fly in foreign workers, despite there being almost 300,000 people registered for full-time employment in Queensland who could not get a job.

Unemployment was also an issue in WA, albeit to a lesser extent, he said.

Mr Katter said resource projects - especially coal mines in Queensland's Galilee Basin region - were increasingly foreign-owned, with little money returning to Australia.

"If the profits are going to go overseas and now the wages are going to go overseas, well what the hell do Australians get?," he asked.

"We get no profit, we get no wages, we just get a big hole in the ground."

Under former WA premier Sir Charles Court and former Queensland premier Sir Joe Bjelke-Petersen - who both banned fly-in workers in the states' resource sector - Australia had experienced its greatest period of growth in history, Mr Katter said.

"So don't tell me that inhibits the growth of mining - it doesn't."

Meanwhile, hundreds of companies hoping to win contracts at Roy Hill were clamouring to hear how they could improve their chances during recent roadshows.

In the past week, Hancock Prospecting attracted about 800 people to sessions around WA aimed at assisting suppliers and contractors to bid for work on the multi-billion dollar project.

A Roy Hill spokesman said 120 people attended the Port Hedland session and 60 turned up for the Newman session.

While registrations for the Perth session were capped at 500, more than 600 people attended.

The spokesman said the roadshow was about opening up a dialogue with local companies, providing them with updates on the project to assist their tenders for work.

While Hancock Prospecting has been lashed by unions for securing the first of the Federal Government’s EMAs, US-based oil and gas giant Chevron has borne the brunt of union ire over the small number of contracts it has awarded to Australian companies for its huge Gorgon liquid natural gas project in WA.

Chevron has indicated that local content levels will be much higher during operational phases than during construction.

The West Australian

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