This week is NAIDOC Week when we get to celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievements of First Nations people. In 2020, NAIDOC Week is celebrating that this land always was and always will be Aboriginal land. We have a chance this year, this week, to celebrate the fact that we share this land with the oldest continuing culture on the face of the Earth—and that is something that every Australian should be very proud of. I want to thank the schools right across Rockingham and Kwinana in my electorate of Brand that are celebrating NAIDOC Week and wish them all the very best. They make so much effort in recognising the truth of Indigenous history in this country, and I commend them for their efforts during this NAIDOC Week.
On a busy Friday afternoon after the last parliamentary sitting week, BP announced that it was closing its Kwinana fuel refinery. This is devastating news for the 650 workers at BP, most of whom are set to lose their jobs. The fact that the Morrison government is allowing this to happen when good jobs are already scarce during this pandemic is frankly unbelievable. BP is cutting and running. It's not just an assault on local jobs; it's an assault on Australia's fuel security, with domestic refining capability set to be reduced by a full quarter because of this decision. This is a closure of the largest fuel refinery in the country. It will mean that my home state of WA—and your home state, Deputy Speaker Rick Wilson—will be completely reliant on imported refined fuel.
This Morrison government talks big on fuel security, but instead of supporting our local capability and local workers they are stockpiling crude oil in the United States, 15,000 kilometres away. In April the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction and the Prime Minister were all smiles when they bought two days worth of cheap fuel in the US—which, by the way, was described at the time by fuel security figures like retired air vice-marshal John Blackburn as an 'opportunistic marketing stunt'. As the former air vice-marshal said, 'You don't get improved domestic fuel security by buying oil and sticking it in America.' Marketing stunt or not, what does increased capacity around the world mean when we are losing our sovereign capability at home? Even with this extra two days worth, Australia is still dangerously under the 90-day mandate of our International Energy Agency obligations.
Just eight weeks ago, the Morrison government announced that it is boosting Australia's fuel security package, stating that, 'Maintaining a viable domestic refinery industry will support Australia's economic recovery from COVID-19.' The media release from the Prime Minister and the energy minister stated—and the detail is important:
Refineries play an important role in securing Australia’s fuel security and putting downward pressure on fuel prices for consumers. Modelling has shown that a domestic refinery capability is worth around $4.9 billion (over 10 years) in value to Australian consumers in the form of price suppression.
It goes on:
The Government is committed to a sovereign on-shore refinery capacity despite the threat to the viability of the industry.
But the government is not so committed to the refining capacity in Western Australia. Here we are eight weeks later with the imminent loss of 650 jobs in my electorate and no refining capacity for the state—whose industries, quite frankly, drive the national economy—and we get nothing but useless and meaningless platitudes from this government about fuel security and empty promises about supporting the refining industry.
The BP Kwinana refinery has been at the heart of the Kwinana industrial strip that has driven the economic growth of Western Australia since the fifties. It has provided fuel to Western Australia for 65 years—in fact it has provided the asphalt for the roads of Western Australia for nearly as long. BP is as much a part of the fabric of my community as the Garden Island naval base or the blue grain silos of CBH. Everyone in Rockingham has a connection to BP, and the town of Kwinana was literally born out of BP. My dad worked there for 30 years, and many of my old high school friends still work there. But after 65 years of refining fuel for aviation, agriculture, the largest naval base in the nation and the use of everyday Western Australians, BP has decided to cut and run, winding down operations at the Kwinana refinery from February with mass redundancies starting in April.
I will add another of BP's ways they are continuing to squib their responsibilities: BP has refused to pay for the changes to the white oil pipeline to the airport. They threatened to leave Western Australia many months ago, if they had to do what in fact they had agreed to do in a state agreement. Now BP have quit anyway and they will reap the profit of the pipeline work they refuse to pay for as they move to the cheaper import terminal model.
BP have failed 650 workers and their families and they have failed the local community. Multinationals like BP need to get a grip on themselves and realise the effect they have on local communities when they decide to cut and run, putting out baseless and meaningless excuses. These affect people. You can tell I'm emotional about this. It has been such a part of my family's life for so long. You can hardly believe it's happening. Without warning, workers got notice, some of them off shift, via text message: 'Contact your line manager.' That's their working future: these good jobs, well-paid jobs, hard jobs in a dangerous environment are all going to be gone in less than six months. It's atrocious and a poor reflection on a multinational that once helped drive the state's economy.
There are countless small businesses across Rockingham and Kwinana with BP as their largest customer. They're already struggling because of COVID-19 and they might not survive this devastating loss. For example, Parkin Print in Rockingham, which my office uses quite a lot—and, quite frankly, I thought I was their biggest customer but it turns out BP is—are stalwarts of the business community in Brand and they've personally been in touch with me to let me know how devastated they are to lose BP as a customer and, like the workers of the BP itself, completely without warning. The flow-on effects to small businesses throughout Rockingham and Kwinana, and even stretching into Fremantle, cannot be understated.
This government needs to do better, and it really has to step up. Expressing disappointment, thoughts and prayers for the workers and hope that they find a better future isn't enough when we're talking about a sovereign fuel capability, when we're talking about 650 job losses that will affect 650 families right across my electorate. They need to step up, honour the promises they've made in the fuel security package and save Australia's biggest petrol refinery from the end of its days that BP has wrought upon it.
I call on the Prime Minister and the energy minister to deliver on their promise to help refineries through this pandemic and their ongoing viability issues, but mainly turn your attention swiftly to the troubles at BP because we won't have much time to fix this. I stand with the workers of BP, my friends at BP, the union delegates—the AWU and the AMWU have all been in touch—and their families. Again, I call on the Morrison government to stand up and save the BP Kwinana refinery.
I might in the couple of minutes remaining reminisce a little bit about BP, as has been done on Perth radio. I said before my father worked there. Way back in the eighties they used to have family fairs on the big oval in front of BP—the kind of thing that doesn't happen anymore because of health and safety, which is fair enough. Let's face it: it's a whole lot of fuel that may explode at some point. It was a very family-oriented company. There were discounts for soft drinks and all sorts of things for the staff of the refinery and their kids. There was an extraordinary social club, and it was very much a part of my parents' life and therefore mine when I was a young girl growing up in Shoalwater Bay.
My parents have many friends that they have known through my dad working there for over 30 years and, I might add, as a shiftworker. Shiftworking, as people may know if they've done it themselves or have family members who do it, is disruptive to families. People have to be quiet when dad or mum's asleep, and families make sacrifices. The workers make sacrifices, working these long shifts and unsociable hours in dangerous workplaces so that they can give their families a good start and a good place in life.
That's the shame of what has happened these last few weeks. BP, without warning, have ripped that opportunity away from 650 families across Rockingham and Kwinana, and these workers live in Rockingham and Kwinana. They don't fly in and fly out. They can't magically change their lifestyles to that new way of work that people want them to do. So I just reflect on the sadness that we are experiencing in Kwinana and Rockingham at the loss of BP, and I think about the workers and their families in this really terrible time.