Labor Senator Murray Watt asking questions at a Senate Estimates hearing at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Kym Smith
Labor Senator Murray Watt asking questions at a Senate Estimates hearing at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Kym Smith

Two old rivals clash again over automated trucks

BHP Mitsubishi Australia’s decision to automate a fleet of 86 trucks on the Goonyella Riverside coal mine continues to make waves with the latest criticism coming from Queensland senator Murray Watt.

He has expressed his concerns over labour hire that may be jeopardised by the move towards automation.

Not surprisingly, his crosshairs were set on the head of the Resources Minister Matt Canavan.

Senator Watt claimed Senator Canavan had “betrayed” the trust of Central Queensland mine workers over potential jobs uncertainty.

“Matt Canavan must explain what he’s doing right now, to ensure that displaced workers will be looked after,” Senator Watt said.

“What’s he doing to ensure BHP chooses Central Queensland for the new, high tech jobs it says it will create?”

Federal Minister for Resources Matt Canavan . (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)
Federal Minister for Resources Matt Canavan . (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)

Senator Canavan said it was the Queensland Government’s responsibility to hold BMA to account, openly criticising the miner’s decision.

“As I said last week, the Queensland Government needs to make sure that our coal jobs stay in our coal communities,” he said.

“I am not opposed to innovation, but the jobs must stay close to the mine to benefit the development of all Queensland.

“Coal is the Queensland Government’s resource and the Queensland Government should make sure BHP and others deliver local jobs.”

Last week, Queensland Mines Minister Anthony Lynham met with a BMA representative to seek assurances that no jobs would be lost.

BMA made commitments that no jobs would go from the Goonyella Riverside mine and all affected employees were to be offered existing vacant jobs or retrained for other roles at the same site.

Dr Lynham said he was satisfied with the assurances from the miner and vowed to hold the company accountable.

“I expect BMA to deliver on these assurances and to do the right thing by all the workers on site.”

BMA’s asset manager James Palmer told the Bowen Basin club in July, “We’ve heard the strong calls from our workforce – and indeed the communities where we operate – to reduce long-term labour hire and create more permanent employment.

Despite this, The Morning Bulletin understands BMA will be implementing more labour hire workers to assist in the mine’s transition to automated haulage.

It is also understood labour hire can apply for the new roles including field officer and control positions.

So at this stage it remains unclear which way BMA will go with moving from labour hire into permanent staffing.



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