BHP and Government help out

  • Written by 
  • Wednesday, 06 February 2013 18:37
(3 votes)

Flood-ravaged Queensland has received a hefty donation from mining giant BHP Billiton.

Last week the company donated $1 million to the Red Cross’s flood relief appeal to match the state government’s contribution.

Marius Kloppers, CEO of BHP says “BHP Billiton has a long and proud history in Queensland and we are committed to supporting where we operate.”

He added, “We hope these funds will make a positive contribution to the state’s recovery program.”

Heavy rains from cyclone Oswald resulted in severe summer floods in many areas of Queensland and New South Wales, devastating the area.

BHP employs thousands of Queenslanders and operates some of the largest open-cut coal mines in the state.

Along with donations such as these comes speculation surrounding the motive for the generous offer. Should private companies be providing compensation for issues that are the responsibility of the government?

Perhaps companies that impact community infrastructure should be obliged to help pay in these circumstances as a responsibility rather than a choice.

We can also speculate that during such a widely publicised event, large private companies are eager to be seen as the do-gooders amongst the community.

The PR could do wonders for their reputation. However, that is perhaps the pessimistic approach and companies like BHP may genuinely care about the communities and simply want to assist in rebuilding and help the residents get on with life.

Chief operating officer of Xstrata copper Steve de Kruijff admits that “self-interest” does help explain many companies’ decision to pay for local infrastructure. “We want to be able to attract employees into our town and we want them to stay and grow their families here and be here as long as they can,” he explains.

De Kruijff admits that a fuzzy line is drawn when private companies fund public services. “I do think that government has key priorities in that area that they should be maintaining, but I don’t have a problem if some companies want to be involved in that,” he said, “That can be okay as well.”

We may never really know whether BHP jumped at the opportunity for publicity or sincerely wanted to assist the flood-ravaged communities, but we will all attest that the donation was greatly needed and will be put to good use.

However, businessman Clive Palmer recently used social media to call the government’s donation of $1million ‘a joke’. He says the amount works out to about 20 cents per person and if they really cared they’d donate $100 million.

State and federal discussion regarding private company funding into public sectors should be addressed, particularly regarding companies’ responsibility to assist where they have a solid presence or effect on the communities.



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