Bikies working on the Victorian Desalination Plant supplied strippers and the drug ice at midweek parties which co-workers were encouraged to attend, according to media reports.

According to a report in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, a whistle-blower speaking on condition of anonymity has told the newspaper that the parties – with regard to which thugs had gained entry through invitation from union mates or links with managers at building contractor Thiess – had been used to create a market for illegal drugs.

According to the report, which also says medical staff were discouraged from using drug-testing kits on the site and adds that there were concerns some workers may have been operating machinery whilst affected by illicit drugs, other allegations by desalination plant workers include that:

  • Shop stewards witnessed drug deals on the site.
  • A bikie employed with the support of management was sacked after he was caught sleeping in his car while being paid to work.
  • Some shop stewards were on permanent night shift for up to three years, collecting double time for each hour’s work.
  • Workers had to wait days for supplies of basic materials such as bolts, leaving them unable to do any work.
  • Drug-testing kits were rarely, if ever, used because of pressure from unions.
  • Under conditions of a pay agreement, workers testing positive for drugs or alcohol and who agreed to counselling had to be given a two-hour paid break to sober up.

The report comes amid criticism about the viability of the plant, which the government says is costing the state $1.8 million per day in order to maintain whilst sitting idle as it is not currently needed.

Whilst State Treasurer Michael O’Brien describes the project as a waste of money, Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews says the plant represents a world class asset which will help future-proof Victoria’s water supply in the event of future droughts (the plant was the brainchild of the previous Labour government).

Announced in 2007 in the midst of what had then been a decade long drought, the plant is located nearby on the Bass Coast in southern Victoria.

Originally scheduled to cost $2.9 billion and be completed by 2011, however, the plant did not achieve full production capacity until the end of 2012, at which time it was placed on standby mode as good rainfall had seen reservoirs in Melbourne return to levels of above 80 percent full.

Even if no water is required, the plant is now expected to cost between $18 and $19 billion even if no water is required, part of which relates to a minimum $1.8 million per day amount payable to the construction consortium for at least 27 years following completion.