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Historic Golden Mile Loopline Railway from Kalgoorlie to Boulder in WA Goldfields set to live again
Drilling has begun on the tunnel at the future Forrestfield train station, which will connect Perth's eastern suburbs to the airport.
Two tunnel-boring machines have been put to work on the eight-kilometre stretch that will help link Perth's foothills and the CBD as part of the $1.86-billion Forrestfield-Airport Link project.
Premier Mark McGowan said the first component of Labor's Metronet plan would provide 2,000 jobs over the duration of the project.
"We want to maximise local jobs, that's what we're about," Mr McGowan said.
"This is a fundamental part of our Metronet plan to link our suburbs, to make sure that we have better planning, linked-up communities and more jobs."
One of the machines that will bore the tunnel, remove dirt and reinforce it with concrete segments has been named after a schoolgirl named Grace who is undergoing treatment for leukaemia, after her friends named her the toughest person they knew.
The machines are two of only nine of their kind in the world.
But construction union members rallied at the site on Sunday, warning the project could go the same way as the problem-plagued Perth Children's Hospital, which is yet to open.
The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CMFEU) believes the quality of the project is at risk because of cost-cutting.
They also claim worker morale is low on site, and that 60 foreign employees on 457 visas are being "denied fair rights and conditions".
"By not being allowed to go home to visit their families on a frequent basis, this isolates them and opens them up to further exploitation," the union said in a statement.
CMFEU state secretary Mick Buchan called for fair treatment for everyone on site, but said he also wanted the Government to only employ WA workers for the rest of the project.
"Those guys [457 visa holders] are here now and we need to see that they're treated fairly and treated like every other Australian," Mr Buchan said.
"But they need to put a cap on stopping anyone else coming in when there's locals out there that could do those jobs."
WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the Government was aware of the union's concerns.
"They've raised those issues with us, we've worked through those," Ms Saffioti said.
"I think we're satisfied with where we're at at the moment, but this is going to be an ongoing dialogue as it always is in relation to projects to make sure those workers are properly protected."
The head contractor, Italian conglomerate Salini-Impregilo, has been contacted for comment.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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