Thursday 17th June 2010
Legislative Council Hansard

Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Sometimes things happen in my electorate that never cease to amaze me.  We have a number of good-news stories in Rosevears, particularly when the price of gold surges and the future of the Beaconsfield mine seems more assured or when Tyco Engineering lands an overseas contract for its hydro-electric power equipment or when Tamar Ridge experiences a particularly good wine season.  But who would have dreamt that a Beauty Point-based company was recruiting skilled labour for the West Australian mining industry and has recently opened offices in Perth, Western Australia and Roxby Downs in South Australia?

I would like to tell you about BLH Engineering and Construction Pty Ltd.  The BLH group of companies specialise in design, fabrication, manufacture and installation, together with a diverse range of supporting services.  Their success lies in the fact that they deliver 'on time service with a total project commitment' and 'operate mindfully within the community'.  BLH is the brainchild of the managing director, Shane Gill, but he is commonly known as 'Bart' throughout the community.  It was established in 2001 to supply multiskilled trades personnel to northern Tasmania.  Since then BLH has grown rapidly, supplying the growing demand in the minerals resource sector across Australia.  Its head office is strategically based at Beauty Point.  You might remember the restaurant that used to be above the Seahorse Farm, on the wharf.  They have taken over that restaurant area and it is now full of computer equipment and staff.  They now have 30 people feverishly working away there.  The total work force is currently more than 400, including 50 permanents, and they have a database of more than 3 000 tradespeople on their books.  BLH is working on the BHP Billiton Olympic Dam site in South Australia, and has ongoing maintenance contracts with Temco, BHP, Hydro Tasmania, Boags Brewery, Alinta Energy, Van Diemen Aquaculture, the Beaconsfield Gold Mine, the Bell Bay Power Station and many other core businesses.  During this month, BLH has secured a long-term contract, as part of a new $30 million power station construction project in Collie, Western Australia.  That was based on their performance on the Tamar Valley Power Station project, in the electorate of Windermere. 

The company has a preference for employing Tasmanians and it is their desire to support our community.  The project engineer at BLH, Richard Phillips, says the company is able to manufacture some items in Tasmania cheaper than elsewhere in Australia. As President Obama said, 'We can do it', and we can do it here in Tasmania.

The other part of BLH's operation, Madam President, concerns labour hire and recruitment.  They run a very professional online skilled trades employment register.  They recruit tradespeople  such as welders, boilermakers, fitters, riggers, carpenters and diesel fitters, as well as other workers with oil and gas experience.  Pressure welders are currently being trained for them at the Launceston Polytechnic/TAFE.  They provide consulting engineers, project management, structural engineering and design, and services are provided anywhere in Australia and overseas.  They recruit for the mining industry in Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia and they have just had representatives attend the Canton World Trade Fair in China - they are looking for cooperation with Chinese companies.

This operation, Madam President, has great potential.  I would recommend that people google BLH Engineering to see the professionalism of their operation, as reflected in their website.  I was hoping the Treasurer might be here because I would like to draw the attention of the Government, particularly the Treasurer, to this venture in the heart of my electorate.  BLH is currently running a fabrication workshop at York Town but needs to double the size of its spray painting, sandblasting and manufacturing shed to house workers who have to work in the rain.  Expansion is needed to increase employment and cater for extraordinary growth.  A new warehouse and office are on the agenda to support their import-export business and the company would welcome government support.  They recently applied for the north-west regional grant but I think they were too far north, rather than north-west -

Ms Forrest - I think they would be.

Mr FINCH - They were not successful, but this was their attempt to secure some sort of government support.  They are doing the hard yards and they are proving successful, and they want to share this with the Government.  I would rate them as a very sound investment.

The innovation strategy outlined in the Budget today may be able to include the work of BLH - a company which is, I believe, another success story from my electorate of Rosevears.