Clare Solar Farm nothing to be proud of, says ETU
Government failure means jobs, jobs, jobs for un licensed backpackers, not locals
The Electrical Trades Union is disgusted that the State and Federal Governments are reporting the so-called success of a solar farm built by predominantly unlicensed foreign backpackers plagued by safety breaches.
The Clare Solar Farm in North Queensland is being spruiked by both government’s as a blueprint for success, but according to the ETU’s Queensland/NT State Secretary Peter Ong the Clare Solar Farm project is a blueprint for failure.
“This project has been a lesson in what not to do. We have all levels of Government promising a jobs bonanza for local communities, yet what we are seeing is jobs, jobs, jobs for unlicensed overseas backpackers bussed in by labour hire companies to work on these projects,” Mr. Ong said.
According to the Qld/NT State Secretary, the responsibility for this fall equally at the feet of the Federal Government, Turnbull and Cash and cross benchers like Pauline Hanson and her One Nation Senators who supported the Building Code of Practice, which effectively outlawed the inclusion of any clauses in agreements that seek to put any conditions on the use of labour hire.
“What we have seen since the introduction of the Building Code is an explosion in the use of labour hire on construction projects because we are unable to limit the use of backpacker labour. We warned that the end result would be lower wages, fewer jobs for locals and an exploitative culture from labour hire companies, and that is exactly what has occurred at Clare,” he said.
Mr Ong said The ETU has and will continue calling on the Federal Government to fix the Building Code issues and enable limitations to be put on the use and number of labour hire workers.
“We know they (the Federal Government) don’t care about workers but they do care about staying in power, we will be exerting political pressure where we can in the lead up to the federal election, including campaigning in marginal coalition seats in North Queensland”
Mr Ong did not just reserve criticism for the Federal Government but called out the State Labor Government for what he calls a betrayal of trust.
“It is a massive kick in the guts for local tradespeople and construction workers who have been affected by the downturn in places like Townsville, Gladstone and Mackay to see jobs in the growing renewable sector going to overseas workers. It is outrageous that we have a State Labor Government minister posing with overseas backpackers on a renewable energy project in Queensland,” he said.
“Our members campaigned for the re-election of this Labor Government and they feel massively let down, first there is the perceived privatisation of our sustainable energy future, and now the sell-out of local workers. This Labor Government needs to stand up for local workers and against the Federal Government, failure to do so will be seen as political betrayal”
Mr Ong sent a warning to all sides of politics that the ETU will be ramping up its campaign in the renewable energy sector. “Sustainable, renewable energy is the future and it must include sustainable local jobs and opportunities; with fair pay and conditions and we will campaign against any Government or party that seeks to undermine that outcome”