Foreign workers and mining:

Glen Frost writes: Re. “Why getting Australians into mining jobs doesn’t add up” (yesterday, item 1).  The first house my wife and I had in England was a terraced house built in 1885.

It was what the Poms call a “two up and to two down” — it’s still in better condition than many houses built in the past 50 years because it’s double brick and has solid-oak beams; but that’s another story.

The key point is that the house was built by The Great Eastern Railway, for its workers. Some houses were rented, some sold. The GER was a private sector company at that time. Many wealthy families created trusts from the profits their businesses generated to build schools, hospitals and aged care homes (see the Wikipedia histories of families such as Courtauld, Rowntree etc).

I realise Gina and the other miners pay royalties and tax, but housing is crucial to working families, and why can’t the mining folks take a leaf out of what worked for successful trusts in the UK, or look at what Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are doing with their gazillions? Whether it’s called philanthropy, good PR or CSR, being wealthy offers a person an opportunity to change their country for the better; this isn’t a conversation we Australians are having with our miners and politicians.

Jocelyn Cleghorn writes: It may be good policy but I think it would be improved even further it the use of temporary migrant labour was tied to the training of local workers.

The big miners have been bleating about workforce shortages for years but consistently fail to train enough people — instead luring them away from the construction industry, which now seems to exist as a training ground for the miners.

Let them bring in the temporary labour but make it conditional on employing one new apprentice for every migrant.

My message to the big miners — if you want skilled people — train them, and stop expecting the tax payer to do it for you!

Craig Thomson:

John Kotsopoulos writes: I write to support the outrage expressed by several readers over your Thomson editorial (yesterday, comments). It really does read as a cut and paste of one of Abbott’s media releases.

It’s rubbish like that that finally caused me to cancel my subscription to The Australian. Please Crikey, don’t make me regret renewing my subscription after all these years.

Alonso not Webber:

Tim Villa writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (yesterday, item 13). The photo captioned “Victory Champagne in Monaco, victory milk in Indianapolis” is Fernando Alonso not Mark Webber. Different car, different team, different colours … different face!

Peter Fray

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