Metronet Sub-Contractor Concerns: WA Labor Should Investigate Supplier Linked with Forced Labour

Shadow Minister for Planning, Lands and Heritage the Hon Neil Thomson MLC has called on the McGowan Labor Government to support a bi-partisan investigation into links between Chinese supplier the KTK Group and forced labour of the Uyghur minority community.  

It is noted that the United States Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security added the KTK Group to its Entity List, which currently includes 11 companies implicated in human rights violations and abuses. 

There are particular concerns about the repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labour, involuntary collection of biometric data and genetic analyses targeted at minority groups from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

The McGowan Labor Government’s signing of a $1.3 billion contract in December 2019 with the manufacturing firm Alstom to build Perth’s next fleet of trains in the knowledge that components for the railcars will be supplied by the KTK Group is deeply perplexing.  

“We do not tolerate forced labour or any egregious abuses of human rights in this country.  The public deserves a better explanation than has been provided by the Minister so far and an assurance that contracting is not occurring with local subsidiaries of parent companies with banned abuses elsewhere in the world”, said Mr Thomson.

It is understood that the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) released a report recently that raises extensive concerns over the use of forced labour from the Uyghur minority.

“WA Labor is very happy to talk-up their amendments introduced last week to laws about worker protection against forced labour and improving industrial relations in WA but they can’t be serious if they’re turning a blind eye to forced labour elsewhere in the world with companies this Government is allowing to be contracted to build components for Labor’s Metronet trains.

“This WA Labor Government is demonstrating a complete disregard to transparency, accountability and potentially, worker protection and human rights by simply relying on bland statements from the company – especially given the KTK Group has been listed by the United States Department of Commerce.

“Alstom had previously indicated to Minister Saffioti’s office in Freedom of Information documents that they were willing to change suppliers if directed by the Government, which the Minister failed to do.  We have to ask why?  This is why there should be an investigation.

Mr Thomson expressed “deep frustration with WA Labor’s deflection of questions in Parliament and the lack of other information provided under Freedom of Information.  This behaviour cannot be tolerated” he said. 

Mr Thomson has called for an urgent bi-partisan parliamentary review to scrutinise the sub-contracting with the KTK Group.