30 October 2020

SUBJECT: Closure of BP’s Kwinana oil refinery.



SUBJECT: Closure of BP’s Kwinana oil refinery.
GEOFF HUTCHISON, HOST: The Federal Member for Brand is Madeleine King. Good afternoon to you.
MADELEINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE: Good afternoon, Geoff. How are you?
HUTCHISON: I’m good. There’s some personal history here, isn’t there?
KING: Yeah, absolutely. I got home from Canberra today, arrived on the tarmac and heard this news. You know, it's quite emotional. My dad was one of the first workers at BP when it started in the 50s, working in the lab there. Lots of shift work. We were growing up as kids, and just like many families are doing today, BP gave our family that kind of good start. We were able to live in Shoalwater. The reason I was born in Kwinana was because Dad worked in Kwinana and we set up our lives nearby. So it's a really sad day and I've got my high school friends that work there right now, who I’ve been chatting to this afternoon, that are absolutely blindsided by this.
HUTCHISON: Now that's what I needed to know and I was trying to establish that when we spoke to the manager at BP here, whether people were blindsided. I know there has been talk over the years that there have been years of consecutive losses, but I was trying to establish how surprised workers would have been at this decision and you're saying the people you know were blindsided by it.
KING: Well, there's always been talk about all the refineries in the country, of which there’s only four, they have their challenges, but I think an announcement coming today was definitely a moment of very great surprise. No consultation, no kind of a transition-type talk as Steve McCartney said earlier. And the friend I spoke to, Chris, he’s not on shift until Monday, he only heard through text message and it was a text message that said, ‘Urgent announcement from management, contact the line manager’, something like this. So I think while there may have been a meeting of some of the people that are about to lose their jobs, it certainly wasn't everyone and people like Chris and others that work there, haven't been shown the respect they deserve for their commitment to the company. Because these are highly skilled, very well-paid workers, and all their earnings go to their families and into that local economy of Rockingham and Kwinana. Because that's where most of those workers live.
HUTCHISON: Is that what worries you? They are highly skilled workers and obviously there are parts of Rockingham and Kwinana that have really moved forward particularly well in recent times - light industrial and manufacturing and defence-related industries and those kind of things. But at the same time, it did not sound encouraging for those 650 people that whilst we heard those corporate words that said we will try and redeploy when we can or we’ll try and provide FIFO opportunity when we can, it doesn't sound like many people are going to have a job at the end of this.
KING: Well I can't see how when you announce something in late October and you're going to shut down in February, March. I don't know where BP think they're going to magic up some jobs for some pretty highly skilled, it's pretty specialised work the operators at BP. It’s well paid for a reason, because it's very long shifts and it's a dangerous place to deal with that much fuel.  But they maintain such high standards there and as far as I'm aware it's actually the most efficient refinery in the nation. So that it’s the first of this last group to go is really devastating.
HUTCHISON: Madeleine King, thank you for speaking to me.