Mining mogul Twiggy Forrest and the Fortescue Metals Group are no strangers to issues Indigenous. Whether fighting native title battles to build mines in the nation’s west, to promoting the employment of Indigenous people Twiggy has always had a lot to say.
“I know that Aboriginal people have every bit the ability any of us in this room have, and I know for sure they work as hard and when they come on board and join your company they will add value to your business,” Mr Forrest said in 2010
With companies who deal in Billions of dollars adding value is both in finding cheap resources that can be sold at inflated prices in the International market and by finding bargain basement labour that can dig it out of the ground for you. In the Indigenous community FMG has now found both. Buying resources from traditional land owners for peanuts (because any more would be welfare) and then selling them on for billions. Now today the ABC reports that FMG have found the answer to the labour side of the equation. Why pay people a few hundred thousand a year to fly in and fly out of your mine site when you can pay Indigenous “trainees” 50 bux and a day, not provide them accommodation or the ability to fly home.
Maybe the ABC has it wrong, maybe the workers denied a chance to speak on camera by their supervisor would give a glowing report of FMG, working in the mines on the cheap and sleeping rough. Or maybe they weren’t allowed to speak because their answers would be something we don’t want to hear? That there are Aboriginal men, working hard in the mines, trying to further their education and in return being paid much much less than their white counter parts.
Whatever the case, the WA and Federal Government must get to the bottom of it. And in the context of great pushes by mining companies such as FMG to grab traditional lands for their own benefit this must be done now!