Aurizon cuts 'short-sighted': ALP frontbencher
SENATOR Kim Carr has criticised a decision by rail company Aurizon to cut 126 positions from its Gladstone, Bluff and Stanwell depots.
The Victorian senator, who serves as Shadow Minister for Innovation and Industry, was in Gladstone yesterday to discuss energy price issues with local manufacturers.
He said Aurizon's move to cut permanent positions and hire contractors in response to fluctuating demand was emblematic of a "short-sighted" approach to a long-term issue.
"I don't agree with the approach that the company's taking," Senator Carr said.
"What we're seeing is the casualisation of jobs when what we should be looking for is new business opportunities.
"And it seems to me that if one company won't do it then another company should fit (them) in."
Senator Carr said with governments across Australia set to spend $45 billion on rail infrastructure over the next five years, it was unacceptable that the rail industry had to worry about demand certainty.
"There's no excuse for us not getting a national approach to the building of that infrastructure in Australia and providing work for Australians - particularly in regional centres," he said.
"We ought to start with building a national rail industry plan, a manufacturing plan, so we can smooth out the peaks and troughs in demand for construction of rail vehicles so we can ensure that our Australian companies are able to tender for work."
Senator Carr drew comparisons between the Aurizon workers' situation and the ongoing industrial dispute at NRG's Gladstone Power Station.
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"We have a similar problem, that is that companies will look to the short term, not the long term, and it's happening too often," Senator Carr said.
"Companies are looking to take advantage of the downturn, particularly in the resources sector, because they think their bargaining position's improved."
Senator Carr declined to say whether Labor should bear some responsibility for the situation at Aurizon given it was the Bligh Government which sold off the company in 2010.
"The question is whether or not there's been decisions made under this government, which I understand they are looking at, and I look forward to their deliberations," he said.
"My beef is not with governments of the past, it's with governments of the future, and we've got to get our governments in Australia to work together."