New Northern Territory Chief Minister Terry Mills has strongly urged Japan to make full use of local businesses and staff to fill labour needs for the multi-billion dollar Ichthys LNG Project in Darwin and has called for larger-scale projects associated with the development to be broken down into smaller projects so that a greater spread of local businesses can benefit.
Mills held a meeting on the issue with Japan’s Consul-General Dr. Masahiro Kohara in Sydney on Monday.
In a statement, Mills says Kohara gave his support to an initiative to award Territory businesses smaller contracts from the project.
“Today, I spoke to Dr. Kohara about breaking down larger contracts into smaller parcels of work which can then be awarded to local Territory manufacturing businesses,” Mills says. “Dr. Kohara agreed there was a strong argument for this to occur and indicated he would help in any way he could.”
Signed off on by Japanese energy giant INPEX Corporation earlier this year, the Ichthys project involves gas exploration in the Browse Basin off the north-west coast of Western Australia and the subsequent pumping of the gas to a processing centre several thousand kilometres away in Darwin It stands as one of the largest offshore LNG construction projects in the world and is expected to underpin a significant boom in the Northern Territory’s economy and construction industry over the next five years as the project’s infrastructure is built.
The latest developments follow apprehension about the volume of work associated with large resource projects being awarded to overseas firms as well as fears that foreign workers are being brought over on 457 visas to undercut wages of local workers.
The Ichthys project was one of four developments cited by the Construction, Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) during a protest rally at Port Hedland, with Australian workers angry that more than two thousand 457 visas have been proposed.
However, a spokeswoman for Mills denied suggestions the latest moves were motivated by any such concerns.
Rather, the spokeswoman said Monday’s meeting between Mills and Kohara followed an earlier meeting last week where Mills joined the NT Manufacturer’s Council and a local business that had secured a small contract. Following this meeting, the spokeswoman says, Mills told Kohara that both the government and NT businesses were keen to see more large contracts being split up into smaller contracts and spread around Territory businesses.