One in five workers on the $400 million Musselroe wind farm development are from overseas or interstate, which is far too many, according to Unions Tasmania.
Hydro Tasmania yesterday rejected Unions Tasmania’s allegation that “hundreds of Tasmanian families” were missing out because of the state-owned business’s decision to use overseas workers at the North-East construction site.
Musselroe project director Andrew Hickman said just six Irishmen on 457 and 417 visas would be employed to operate a huge crane that required specialised skills.
“This crane would dwarf any building in Hobart and would be like a monster in Launceston,” Mr Hickman said.
“It’s so big so it needs to be operated by a specialised crew: one, for it to safe and two, for it to be most effective.”
Some contractors were also using a small number of employees from interstate.
“There’s in excess of 150 people on site today, about 20 per cent of those workers are from the mainland,” Mr Hickman said. “We want all of the contractors to use local labour when they can.”
Unions Tasmania boss Kevin Harkins stood by his comments.
“There’s plenty of crane drivers and crane riggers here in Tasmania so why are we bringing them in from Ireland?” Mr Harkins said.
He said 95 per cent of the workforce should be Tasmanian.
Energy Minister Bryan Green said Mr Harkins was being misleading.
“It is a shame Mr Harkins wants to be so negative and he of all people should know better,” Mr Green said.
Launceston-based business Haywards Steel Fabrication and Construction will provide the wind turbine towers and Tasmanian company Hazell Bros is the main civil contractor.
Mr Hickman said progress on site was on track with foundations for half the 56 turbines laid.
The wind farm is due to be fully operational by July next year.