LNG commitment to Indigenous jobs questioned

A central Queensland Indigenous elder says a gas company building a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant near Gladstone has only employed about four people from the local Indigenous community.

Santos GLNG employs thousands of workers at its massive gas project on Curtis Island but local Goreng Goreng elder Malcolm Walker says Goreng Goreng people are being overlooked for jobs and training.

"We signed a deal with Santos, Santos [has] given us a commitment for 300 people on the island - we're still waiting," he said.

"What they're doing is bringing in outsiders and putting them on their books saying they're honouring the deals they've signed with us.

Mr Walker says the company failed to properly advise the Indigenous community while negotiating a land use agreement.

"We were never given the advice as to what they were doing - I mean the whole terms" he said.

"Up to this point we've got no engagement - I think it's about them getting away from their responsibilities as corporate citizens." He says the community has raised the issue with the companies.

"I've been speaking with Petronas [a Santos GLNG shareholder] and every time you take it up the line about benefits or opportunities they say, 'well this is not our position, our position is here that's Santos' responsibility'," he said.

"It's just the old passing the buck." Union backing The Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) and 17 of its affiliates are backing the Indigenous community.

It has agreed to assist the Goreng Goreng community during future negotiations and yesterday signed a 'social compact' with the group.

QCU spokesman Ron Monaghan says large companies are neglecting their obligations.

"It is increasingly obvious that companies enjoying the benefits of Australia's rich regional natural resources are doing very little to advance the opportunities for the traditional owners" he said.

Electrical Trades Union representative Craig Giddins says the agreement will result in stronger agreements.

"It means union expertise, influence and knowledge will be a key component in Aboriginal Australians' dealings with large and powerful commercial entities and government organisations," he said.

Claims rejected Santos says it has put forward several opportunities for the Indigenous community to get in on the gas project.

A company spokeswoman says 140 Aboriginal people are working on the project and it offers several Indigenous training programs.

"We have a number of training opportunities in place across the project including cadetships in our offices, traineeships in the field and also school-based traineeships" the spokeswoman said.

"We have an aspirational target of facilitating 300 employment and training opportunities for Aboriginal people across the project." Santos says it updates Indigenous groups on the developments, but cannot comment on its agreements for legal reasons.

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