Matilda Chapman
Matilda Chapman

Lauga attacks local business owner in Parliament

A ROCKHAMPTON businesswoman was left confused and horrified after finding she'd been attacked by Keppel MP Brittany Lauga under Parliamentary Privilege on Tuesday.

Founding partner of CHAMP Resources, Matilda Chapman was accused of cheating local workers by travelling to the Philippines to recruit sheet metal workers for her company and Yeppoon-based NEWS Contracting and Logistics.

Ms Chapman had no idea she had been named in parliament and said Mrs Lauga had never contacted or spoken to her before telling parliament she should "pack up and leave" if she was not prepared to give local people a go.

Mrs Lauga accused Ms Chapman of slamming Australian workers' attitudes, ethic and sense of entitlement on a video which was posted on You Tube by a Filipino recruitment company.

"I have probably been a bit disillusioned in the recruitment sector over the past three or four years in Australia, with work attitudes, ethics and sense of entitlement that comes from a lot of the Australian workforce, which is a negative thing to say, but it's a reality," she said on the video.

Ms Chapman said she had been asked to discuss human resource management challenges in Australia and said she had been disillusioned in the recruitment sector over the past three or four years.

"It is important to highlight that due to the tightened labour market, it is difficult to recruit and retain suitably qualified, reliable and committed workers," she said.

"I am extremely concerned and disappointed that the Member for Keppel and Assistant Minister for Education Brittany Lauga has made inaccurate comments about my employer and myself in State Parliament.

She said Mrs Lauga had taken her comments out of context when she said hers was a business that "cheats local apprentices, trainees and experienced tradespeople out of job opportunities".

"How dare this company tar all Central Queenslanders with the same brush, stereotyping and defaming our local workers?" Mrs Lauga said.

"If she is not prepared to give local people a go, then can I suggest they pack up and leave."

Ms Chapman said she recruited five skilled, qualified metal fabrication workers from the Philippines for NEWS Contracting and Logistics when she could not source local workers after multiple attempts.

The workers were employed on a 482 visa which allows employers to address temporary skills shortages when they cannot source appropriately skilled Australian workers.

CHAMP Resources is a family-owned local workforce management business based in Rockhampton with a 100 per cent Australian workforce in three states.

NEWS Contracting and Logistics is a separate entity operating a contracting and logistics company business in Yeppoon to which CHAMP Resources provides recruitment support.

Ms Chapman said none of their 100 staff were employed under business sponsorship arrangements.

"At no stage has CHAMP Resources been approached by Brittany Lauga to discuss our business, labour market skill shortages, or the opportunities and challenges faced by small businesses like ours in regional Queensland.

"Our organisation is committed to securing employment opportunities for Australian-skilled workers and are currently providing more than 100 employment opportunities for Australians.

"We maintained our head operations in the CQ region as we expanded as a small business interstate."

Despite Mrs Lauga calling Ms Chapman's comments "unAustralian" and questioning why she wasn't investing in training and development of locals, Ms Chapman said CHAMP Resources was working with industry and local government to look at alternative strategies to support local business and current skills shortages in automotive and mechanical trades in the region.