The State Government is neglecting workers facing unemployment in the south of WA and has failed to outline how it plans to soften the blow up to 500 job losses will have on the regional economy.
Raising the issue in Parliament today, local MP Peter Rundle MLA sought assurance from the State Government that plans were in the pipeline to help transition the region from significant mining and port job cuts. It comes after First Quantum Minerals announced it would be closing its Ravensthorpe operation and Esperance Port confirmed it would make staff reductions last week.
Mr Rundle said local communities were in shock about the announcements.
“The Nationals held our conference in Esperance on the weekend and I can assure you the events that have unfolded have left the community reeling,” he said.
“Little has been done by the government in response to the situation. The Mines and Petroleum Minister is washing his hands of the mine closure issue and the Transport Minister is trying to downplay the amount of employees that will be affected at the port.”
Mr Rundle said the Government needed to step up in this time of crisis and assure workers impacted by job shedding at Ravensthorpe Nickel Operations and Esperance Port that there would be support options available.
“I was in Hopetoun yesterday, a community that will be hit hard by the job cuts,” he said
“The local primary school is facing the loss of up to 30 students, 150 householders have been told they have two months to vacate houses rented by First Quantum Minerals and other families that bought property in the town now face the prospect of unemployment.”
Despite reports of a student exodus, the Premier told Parliament staffing levels would remain unchanged at Hopetoun Primary School for the balance of 2017. Mr Rundle said the hypocritical State Government needed to fast track shovel-ready projects in the region that would help soften the blow for communities and generate new employment opportunities.
“Esperance Indoor Sports Centre upgrades and the South Regional TAFE expansion are ready to go, while Culham Inlet causeway reinstatement works could be accelerated to bring them forward,” he said.
“Yet the Government is stalling on these projects, leaving many workers and their families in the region grappling to come to terms with how they are going to put food on the table.
“The Labor Government is paying lip service to affected communities rather than taking concrete action, the reality is platitudes don’t result in jobs or support.”