Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett told the town of Onslow to “get over it” amid criticism the government allowed Chevron to build worker accommodation at Wheatstone rather than in the town.
Chevron initially agreed to build an accommodation village in Onslow to house the 300 operational staff it needs to run the Wheatstone project.
However it was revealed in August last year that the company would instead use an existing camp near the gas plant, 25 km south of the town.
Upon receiving criticism from Nationals Pilbara MP Brendon Grylls yesterday for allowing Chevron to back out of its housing promise, Barnett hit out in Parliament.
The Premier said Onslow had benefited hugely from the $30 billion Wheatstone gas project and would continue to do so.
"What I say to Onslow [is] get over it, you have had the best infrastructure to put into any town for a new project like this,” Barnett said.
"The benefits will be fantastic – you've now got power and water supply that allows town growth, you've got fantastic community facilities all put into your community.
"So forget the issue of where the fly in, fly out camp is and work with me as the Minister for State Development to ensure we get the real benefits."
Barnett said the decision to allow Chevron to build a camp onsite centred around safety.
He argues that the drive between the work site and Onslow would put lives at risk.
"When they are working 12-hour days doing demanding and stressful work, I don't think rosters want the best part of an hour getting onto a bus and being driven," Barnett said.
"Workers don't want that and I don't want it; I think it's dangerous and unnecessary.
"That trip of up to an hour at the beginning and end of every day would have added to [staff] turnover."
Grylls says he is not buying the idea that safety was a key factor in the decision.
"I struggle with the fact that in all the conversations I had with Chevron that [the safety issue] was never raised and it was then raised after the fact," Grylls said.
"I cannot for the life of me understand how housing a fly in, fly out workforce in the industrial area of town as defined can be a good public policy decision.
"A very large block of land that was meant to house the new Chevron village in the middle of Onslow will remain vacant."