Written on the 18 July 2011


AUSTRALIA'S richest man Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest (pictured) will step down as CEO of Fortescue Metals on July 18 – but he has a few HR matters to attend to first.

At a recent QUT Business Leaders Forum, Forrest commented that Generation One, which he helped create to stop the disparity between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, isn’t about money, but opportunity.

“We got together and thought about what it would take to rid Australia of this disparity, and we came up with the solution of 50,000 jobs, so 50,000 jobs was the end of the road and we don’t call them job offers, but employment covenants,” he says.

“Currently, 260 companies are involved and that figure increases daily – these companies have come together and said, if we don’t have a job offer, we don’t have a reason for people to train, save for what we’ve already had, which is welfare, masquerading as training.

“I’ve been to so many lunches, conferences and so on and we just put more and more money into welfare and training without an end in sight and we begin to define insanity – to rid Australia of the disparity, we must change, something must give.”

Forrest says 44000 jobs had been created and the bottom line is that this growing figure is good for business.

“Our shareholders need people who can join our organisation, who can add value from day one because that’s good business and if those people happen to be Australia’s first people and they can bring with them an increase in culture and morale, then it’s good business,” he says.

Forrest says the retention rate for jobs created so far is 73 per cent and that in Crown Casino and the mining and manufacturing industries, the rate is slightly higher.

“In Crown Casino and the mining and manufacturing industries, we’ve had retention levels running slightly over the non-indigenous population,” he says.

“In our company, we’ve trained about 550 people, 95 per cent of them are in jobs, around 70 per cent are in jobs within our company and our turnover rate is very low, so I know it’s possible and I’ve seen the enormous value that Aboriginal people bring to a business.

“I was shocked when, a few years ago, I researched how much we were spending on the disparity – it was $9.8 billion. A few years later, it’s $22 billion; imagine what it will be in another few years time. What I can tell you, is that it’s a waste of money. It’s hurting our economy and dragging us down – we have the solution now.”

The company’s CFO Nev Power, who hails from Queensland, has been earmarked as Forrest’s successor when he steps down from daily operating duties.






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