24/07/2009 - 12:54

Aussie steel claims Oakajee lockout

24/07/2009 - 12:54

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Premier Colin Barnett's mission to include China in the development of the Oakajee port and rail project has prompted an outcry from the local steel industry, which has appealed to the opposition for help.

Premier Colin Barnett's mission to include China in the development of the Oakajee port and rail project has prompted an outcry from the local steel industry, which has appealed to the opposition for help.

The Australian Steel Institute has asked for assistance from opposition infrastructure spokesperson Alannah MacTiernan to be included in the development of the $4 billion project.

The organisation claims it has written to Mr Barnett regarding his public comments that he has directed the project's proponent, Oakajee Port and Rail, to include Chinese suppliers in the construction.

It said that its WA-based members have reported no such approach being made to them by the government of OPR.

"As yet we have not had a reply from the Premier," the Institute said.

The Institute calls into question the state and federal governments' commitment to a "level playing field" approach and that local industry should be provided with "full, fair and reasonable" opportunities.

"... we seek your support to help convince the current State Government to stay true to established procurement policy by consulting closely with industry here to develop a proper Local Participation Plan for Oakajee Rail and Port development," the Institute wrote in a letter to Ms MacTiernan.

It added that they lay significant opportunities to both develop employment and utilise the capabilities of the local industry.

In a statement today, Ms MacTiernan said it was imperative for the Barnett government to honour the original agreement struck with OPR, which was awarded the tender when Labor was in power.

She said the government had planned for OPR to compete or collaborate with other companies, including Chinese businesses, to build the rail infrastructure servicing the port.

"Contrary to any principle of probity or fairness, the Premier intervened and awarded an exclusive right to OPR to build the $3billion dollar rail line to service the growing iron ore mines in the Mid West region," she said.

"This angered Chinese investors who felt they had been locked out of the rail development and in a bid to appease the Chinese the Premier instructed OPR to include Chinese suppliers in the construction of the project.

"Now local suppliers are questioning why they have not received the same assurances.

"We placed great emphasis on local content in the original Oakajee Port tender and the Barnett Government must not water this down. Western Australian jobs must come first at a time of increasing unemployment."

 

 


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