FIFO camp fight taken to big-screen proportions
In a move even he admits is solely designed to grab the attention of the press, an identity claiming to be a Newman businessman has created a Youtube parody of the classic Star Wars opening scene.
And the stunt comes just days before the world premiere of the much-anticipated JJ Abrams version of the movie - a cynical move “Han Solo” hopes might just work in his favour.
Known only as the fictional character from the films, “Han” told theTelegraph via email the “FIFO Wars” videos, created following the ongoing stoush over the Kurra Village FIFO Camp, were made to protest Premier Colin Barnett’s decision to seek a 20-year lease for the village.
He said people needed to understand that BHP Billiton had also “gone against” an earlier commitment to close the village and that the Premier had done little to get a better deal for Newman.
“The Premier has sided with the powerful corporate empire and small business and the individual in Newman feel like we have not been heard by BHP or the Premier.,” he said.
“We had wished that our local member and shire would have been listened too and we could have remained out of this.”
This morning, a spokeswoman for BHP said the company’s position on the matter had not changed.
“The WA Government has approved the Kurra lease extension,” she said.
“We are committed to providing quality accommodation for both our residential and FIFO employees.
“By maintaining a range of accommodation options we are better able to give our workforce a choice to meet their individual needs.
“We are not prepared to mandate that our FIFO workforce become residentially based, but we will continue to encourage a strong residential presence in Newman.”
Shire of East Pilbara chief executive Allen Cooper has been calling for the State Government and BHP to reconsider the lease extension for some time.
Mr Cooper, who said he had nothing to do with videos and added he didn’t know who was behind them, said the clips nonetheless “echoed” community sentiment.
“I had to google the characters to find out more,” he said. “It’s very creative and timely.”
“I think it’s very clever and appropriate for what we’re trying to achieve.
“It certainly fits the interested parties today.”
And it seems the force is strong in Member for the Pilbara Brendon Grylls, known as Obi Wan Kenobi within the clips, who is continuing to battle the Premier over the matter.
Mr Grylls said there was a lot of interest in the issue from community members and the videos were part of a fight for the future of Newman.
“I think that it shows the level of significance of this argument that people who have got something to lose by having an opinion, have all got an opinion,” he said.
“I hope that the star wars videos prove to be correct because the goodies normally win these fights.”
Han Solo, who said many feared their jobs with BHP could be at risk if they spoke out, said the fight to stop the lease extension of Kurra Village was in the 11th hour for Newman residents.
He said it seemed the only way BHP or Mr Barnett would change their minds and compromise was if the story got more coverage and people understood the failure of BHP and their commitment and the failure of Mr Barnett to “get a better deal”.
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