BHP cuts \’shows job stimulus needed\’

Job losses at the world\’s largest mining company, BHP Billiton, demonstrate the need for any new economic stimulus package to focus on job creation, Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull says.

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Mr Turnbull said news that 3,400 Australian jobs would be shed at BHP, paired with other job losses at Rio Tinto, was “very bad news for the workers and families concerned”.

“It underlines the importance of those three priorities I talk about almost every day: jobs, jobs, jobs,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Sydney.

Rudd \’should focus on jobs\’

“The focus of the government and everybody at this time should be on promoting and preserving employment.

“Any new policies, any new stimuluses, should be directed on jobs and they should be carefully considered, they should be considered for their effectiveness so that the taxpayer gets the maximum economic bang for the taxpayer\’s buck.”

He said the coalition would carefully consider any credit market bail-out on its merits.

The shelving of BHP Billiton\’s Ravensthorpe nickel mine will strip the West Australian government of up to $20 million in mining royalties, Western Australia\’s Acting Premier Kim Hames says.

The mining giant has put the mine, which produces laterite nickel, on care and maintenance indefinitely, slashing 1,800 jobs from the small town in WA\’s south east.

Mr Hames said WA Premier Colin Barnett would take time out from his holidays to fly to the town on Thursday to discuss the situation with the local shire council and the affected workers.

Mr Hames said the cost of the closure to the people of WA would be significant, especially those in Ravensthorpe and the nearby towns of Jerdacuttup and Hopetoun.

WA to \’experience black hole\’

Mr Hames said the government was aware companies had to make difficult decisions with the price of nickel dropping from $US52,000 per tonne in mid 2007 to $US10,000 a tonne now.

Royalties from the mines would leave a black hole of between $10 million and $20 million per year, but the effect of reduced payroll tax had not yet been calculated, Mr Hames said.

The WA government had contributed $18 million in funding to the town for a new school and waste water treatment plant ahead of the mine\’s opening.

The Commonwealth commitment to the town was estimated at $9.8 million for roads.

WA Mines Minister Norman Moore said laterite nickel required high cost processing and he hoped the mine would be reopened if higher growth levels were indicated for China and the need for stainless steel was revived.