Earlier this week one of our commenters, Mervyn Sher voiced his opinion on the future of Gina Rinehart's Roy Hill iron ore mine following an article that outlined Rinehart's plan to support local training.
We've given a slightly edited version of his response, and the questions he asks about local training, and Rinehart's commitment to Australian jobs.
Hancock Prospecting has committed $26M towards training locals, as part of the conditions of the EMA for the Roy Hill Project, so this is neither philanthropic nor good corporate social conscience at play – it’s a statutory condition of the EMA and clearly is only offered because of these conditions of the EMA.
[Roy Hill CEO Barry] Fitzgerald then goes on to say that up to 2000 training places to create long-term jobs, regardless of whether the training was done at Roy Hill or elsewhere.
So is he saying that the EMA requires 2000 training positions to be made available, but it does not have to be for the Project that the EMA is relevant to?
Does this mean that Hancock Prospecting, which has skin in some coal plays over east, could in the normal course of business make 2000 positions available to be filled, and then claim that these were the training positions that they were obliged to undertake?
Or, using a bit of creative accounting could they equally not claim that they have made these positions available through their contractors, by giving the contractors the work? Sounds very suspicious to me.
Furthermore, out of the 2000 training positions "this will include up to 100 trainees, 100 apprentices and 100 aboriginal trainees; as well as many up-skilling programs to enrich the workforce.”
So far this only adds up to 300, not 2000.
Here’s the kicker: "However he cautioned that until the company secures bank funding and started construction of major works in 2013, opportunities for locals would not be available."
So there is no guarantee that Australians are actually going to get any of these positions, is there?
Or is this a veiled threat of sorts for Australians not to get too excited at this time, because the foreign workers will be coming in regardless to begin the pre-construction work?
If, as Fitzgerald states, over the life of the construction of the Project the numbers will peak at about 3000, why then do they need to exercise their option on the EMA at all?
Contracts have already been given out to NRW, BGC et al, all who have trained workforces ready to go, so why the need for foreign workers?
Or is it because the total accommodation for this project is only 2000 beds, which itself is a whole other discussion in itself?
Or maybe, just maybe, all personnel are going to be supplied by the new labour hire player on the block, the Saudi labour hire company that recently registered an Australian office in Perth.
That way the heat and the spotlight is off Hancock Prospecting because they are seen to give work to an "Australian" company.
Either way the Roy Hill Project will happen, on time and on budget.
It may not be built by Australians, though.