FREMANTLE Port unionists took their numbers to a public meeting about a new port claimed to create about 90,000 jobs and new lithium-based industries in Kwinana last night.
“You know what you do when you privatise, as it means casualisation of work, it means foreign workers coming in so you can make more profits,” Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) WA secretary Chris Cain said
About 30 unionists were among the 200-strong crowd at Ken Jackman Hall for the second meeting organised by the new port lobby Western Harbours Alliance (WHA).
There is no proposal for a private port, but the State Government’s Westport Taskforce is gathering all information about freight and logistics in the South West.
At the end of next year, the Taskforce’s strategy will include whether any new container and bulk goods port with a 22.5m-deep channel should be built south of shipyards in Henderson
“The MUA have got funny ideas of which jobs will be impacted by this proposal which represents creating jobs now and into the future, and they’re either ‘get onboard or get out’,” Kwinana MLA Roger Cook said.
Mr Cook backs Town of Kwinana and Kwinana Industries Council studies’ claims a new second port and attracted industries, including processed lithium exports, could generate 37,300 direct and 49,600 indirect jobs.
Answering union critics of the claimed numbers, KIC director Chris Oughton said they were based on developing industry on the unused two-thirds of coastal land designated for trade.
Tianqi Lithium Australia general manager Phil Thick already employs about 35 people, and anticipates a staff of 180 when the world’s largest lithium processing plant costing $400m is finished in the Kwinana industrial strip next year.
“Demand for lithium is being driven by batteries for electric cars,” Mr Thick said.
His mine near Manjimup supplies a third of world supply, but it is processed in China.
Global demand is expected to rise from 200,000t in 2016 to 1m in seven years, but at least seven other lithium mines in WA may process elsewhere in the State.
“You should be pushing every button to ensure the processing plants are built here in Kwinana,” Mr Thick said.