The community has learned to live with nature and industry, as seen here from the top of the Rio Tinto Alcan Yarwun site.
The community has learned to live with nature and industry, as seen here from the top of the Rio Tinto Alcan Yarwun site. Luka Kauzlaric

Gladstone industry wants trust of residents

GLADSTONE industries have vowed to improve the level of trust the community has in their operations following the release of a survey on attitudes to the big six operators.

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Gladstone Industry Leadership Group chief executive Kurt Heidecker said industry, as a whole, needed to continue to demonstrate it was trustworthy.

"Part of our strategic review is looking at ways we can strengthen that (long-term relationship)," he said.

"But we need to continue being available and open for community members to ask questions they may have."

GILG commissioned McNair Ingenuity Research to undertake a community perception survey, where 750 residents spent an average of 28 minutes talking to researchers about social, environmental and industry issues.

The six operational industries represented through the GILG include Orica, Boyne Smelters Ltd, NRG Gladstone Power Station, QAL, Rio Tinto Alcan Yarwun and Cement Australia.

Mr Heidecker said the members of GILG were eager to work on the issues raised.

"We're proud members of the community and it's important we contribute to that," he said.


Mr Heidecker said it was concerning that only three out of 10 people trust communications from industry.

"It's an Australian attitude to distrust big companies," he said. "My grandma used to say trust is earned and not given.

We need to continually show we are trustworthy with our interactions with the people in Gladstone."


Many respondents believe industry has a responsibility to improve infrastructure in town, including health, roads, schools and shopping precincts.

While GILG and campaigns such as Rio Tinto's Here for Health campaigns have offered significant investment to the community, Mr Heidecker said they were areas outside of their focus and responsibility.

"The focus of industry is to support community organisations to strengthen the spirit and fabric of our community and major infrastructure related to industry is our responsibility to fund such as the railways and the wharves," he said.

Although the different levels of government should be developing other infrastructure in Gladstone, Mr Heidecker said industry had an important role to help lobby for the infrastructure needs of the community.


People love living in Gladstone for the natural environment, according to the survey, but continue to be concerned with pollution and the effects industry has on the environment.

Queensland Alumina Ltd was rated as the industry most likely to be associated with air pollution (53% of respondents agreed) - a score not likely to have improved after a large scale caustic leak into the atmosphere on Wednesday.

The company has been quick to assure residents of the very low health risk, and will work with those whose property may have been affected.

QAL is the industry most central to town, and general manager Mike Dunstan has the challenge of ensuring the site is continually improving its reporting and safeguards.

"In the renegotiation of our licence last year we spent further money on additional monitoring, which has been constructed around the community," he said.

"The licence conditions are best practice in Gladstone."

QAL will spend almost $10million to improve storm water management on site.

"Our total environmental spend is one-third of the capital expenditure at the moment," he said. "It's a significant investment."

Mr Dunstan, who has worked at three of the major industry sites in town, said the progress industry had made to "clean up its act" was far more visible and these days.