Fortescue head Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest has upset locals in Port Hedland by preparing to sell off land he had purchased in order to build much needed accommodation for mine workers.
Forrest’s private company, Minderoo, bought 25 blocks of land in February last year from the Western Australian Government’s land and property developer, LandCorp, under the proviso that he would use it to build homes for workers employed by Fortescue Metals Group.
Minderoo purchased the land for between $165,000 and $240,000 per block, but lots are now being sold as part of house-and-land packages on the open market for up to $1.25 million each.
Despite the fact that Forrest has declared that any profits from the sale will be donated to the Victorian Bushfire appeal, former Western Australian planning minister Alannah MacTiernan told Fairfax that Forrest had gone against the spirit of the original deal.
“The State Government acted in good faith to give Mr Forrest’s fledgling enterprise every chance of success and it’s important that they honour the spirit as well as the letter of commitments they made,” she said.
“These sorts of issues may be a test of Andrew’s credibility.
“Andrew has been a very vocal proponent of development of the Pilbara and his words will be judged against his actions.”
Forrest and associates have blamed the global economic downturn on forcing the sale, saying that, “the world changed.”