Lovely submission from MyNing. It seems to be conventional wisdom that Colin Barnett was some kind of a guru when he was Dickie Court’s resources minister. Colin is probably assuming that journalist memories don’t go back as far as his numerous cock-ups. Unfortunately for Colin, MyNing has a memory as sharp as a Nun’s nightie and a clippings file as thick as a tombstone. Myself, I’m more intersted in how bad he looks.
MyNing says… When he was Richard Court’s resources minister, premier-elect Colin Barnett said his government wasn’t into picking winners and losers, a statement not connected with the facts.
One of the big winners for the Court Government in the mid-to-late 1990s – at least until it went belly-up – was the Kingstream steel mill project near Geraldton.
The $2.6 billion undertaking was partly the brainchild of Nik Zuks, the Narrogin-born fitter and turner (at least that’s how Julian Grill described him) who somehow convinced the Coalition, with the help of the premier’s brother Ken, that his plan to process 2.4 million tonnes of steel slab annually – sourcing ore from the Mid West – had legs. (Note from lazy Aussie. Ken is the Court NOT married to religious nut job Margaret.)
Despite hating Zuks’ guts, Barnett – whose agenda at the end of the day seemed to be getting the Oakajee port up and running – bent over backwards to accommodate the project, despite the fact it had piss poor ore resources.
Barnett was so taken by the idea that, at one point, he said the steel mill would the third watershed moment in WA’s resources industry – the other two being the establishment of BP’s oil refinery in the 1950s and the opening up of the iron ore sector in the 1960s. Wrong, Colin, unless you can describe a desolate piece of vacant land as a watershed.
Under Barnett’s watch Kingstream was given top priority (like every good winner) – including having its mill location seamlessly moved from Narngulu to the (yet to be established) Oakajee industrial estate and getting some Land Act legislation tinkered with to make the company’s plans to build its own rail line through private farm lands a little easier.
In addition, Barnett threw his support behind the (then) yet-to-be-selected tenderer for the Dampier-Bunbury natural gas pipeline – Epic Energy – as it attempted to establish a government/Epic/Kingstream energy deal that was eventually deemed uncompetitive by the ACCC.
Pictured with the smiling Barnett are Zuks (left), Alexander Karas (from Austrade), An Feng chairman Madame Wu and AH and Leon Wu (both also of An Feng).
None of the pictured is now smiling over this debacle.