There’s no doubt that there are a few headaches within the mining industry. It’s just a question of tackling these issues head on, finding solutions and looking to future generations to take on the mining legacy.
Each Wednesday, join me, Peter Finn, managing director of FACE Contracting, as I navigate the ups and downs of the mining industry with forward-thinking professionals from all walks of life. If you’re involved in the mining industry in any way – whether you’re a lifer or a high-school student looking to make the leap – Full Production is the podcast for you.
On this episode of Full Production, I had the opportunity to speak with Nick Fardell, The Nationals WA senate candidate. Nick has travelled over 32,000 kilometres on an extensive campaign tour in order to hear the voices of the people at the base line, and bring concerns to the forefront before the regional elections. Originally from Broken Hill, NSW, Nick worked multiple roles within the resources industry before settling in Goldfields for over 20 years. Nick’s knowledge of the mining industry is deep, and he can see the pain points of the workers of today that need to be addressed and tackled more thoroughly.
As a man who pulls no punches, Nick directed our conversation towards some of the bigger topics that have been at the forefront of discussion for those in the industry, such as the importance of apprenticeship schemes and embracing technology to help move Australian industry forward.
Our conversation spanned so many different avenues and was packed with so much insightful information about the future. Here’s some more points that we covered:
- The perceptions non-miners have of the industry
- Nick’s current campaign and his journey around the region
- Surrounding yourself with smarter people than you
- The trials of the agricultural industry
- What services the mining industry should be offering to its worker
- Mental health concerns within mining
- Developing a balanced approach to the economy
- Why people are turning towards smaller political parties
- How having hands on life experience makes you a better politician
- Nick’s mining background
- Taking new opportunities to develop your skills
- Learning lessons from the older generation
- The integration of automation
- Why listening and getting involved should be a politician’s priority
- Why ‘having a go,’ is the best way
[00:00:04] Peter: Good day miners. This is Peter Finn. Welcome to Full Production.
[00:00:11] Female Speaker: In this podcast Pete talks everything mining.
[00:00:14] Peter: A podcast dedicated to the mining industry in the Australian Pacific region.
[00:00:19] Female Speaker: From production to development and most importantly, employment opportunities of the industry’s biggest project. And here is your host, Peter Finn.
[00:00:32] Male Speaker: Good day ladies and gents. Welcome to Episode 56 of Full Production. Today, we have Pete’s conversation with the Nationals WA Senate candidate, Nick Fardell. Nick pulls no punches as he and Pete discuss where the country’s wealth is generated, the importance of apprentice games to help future proof the mining industry, embracing technology, and getting back to grassroots politics. Ladies and gents, here’s Pete and Nick Fardell.
[00:01:07] Peter: Nick Fardell, welcome to Full Production mate.
[00:01:10] Nick: Yes, good day Finn. How are you mate?
[00:01:11] Peter: I’m really good mate. I was here at the– where those, wherever you’re part services wherever expo here in Kalgoorlie. I see the weathers been quite great, right mate?
[00:01:19] Nick: Yes, mate, another sensational day here in Kalgoorlie and full credit to what were those done here today too Finney.
[00:01:25] Peter: Yes, now it’s a good effort. I told you I missed my second daughter’s birthday for this event because obviously I know how much it means the wherever, and for me, I was kicking off a business in WA as well and not necessarily being from me but I know we spoke about it offline how we care about the communities. When he asked me to come, I was like, you know what, there’s no one more– I hate when people are better than me and where those like just always nudging me along to be better and more impactful and trying to give back to something that we both care about mutually which is the the mining industry and in our communities we live in.
[00:02:02] Nick: Yes, and look, everyone will have their knockers, but it’s how you handle your knockers whether you stop because someone says stop, that’s one thing. But if you’ve got an idea where you’re going and you want to go there and you work hard like this and you can see the amount of exhibitors here today that are local businesses that said here’s a bloke having a crack and I’ve got on board, Finney. There’s plenty of businesses that aren’t here. But you see some quality ones here and that’s what where those been able to attract. And you look at the people walking around, they’re doing quality business, they get nice quality questions by people out of an industry that needs more interaction and today provides that and tomorrow.
[00:02:41] Peter: I will need that more human feel, you know. I could break right down the perception of mining. Obviously get around a few non-mining circles and you mentioned the word mining and literally their perception is money but in the end of the day, we talked about it offline, the only thing you take it all off is relationships and coming to events like this and meeting guys like you finally face to face. It’s pretty exciting.
[00:03:05] Nick: And Finney, when you look at it, there is a perception that mining, big money, it’s big money, it’s all about the money but for me it’s all about the community too mate. The community you’re living, what you give back to it and that’s why you hear so many times that mining communities are great places because you can get involved, you can be involved in the local table, the Rock Drill Association. We got it going here in Kalgoorlie again after, I hope he is out mate. You can be involved but that’s your decision, that’s how you make your community.
[00:03:35] Peter: Mate, I’m going to eat food while we talk because as you know there’s a line over the door to have a chat to me and I was pretty keen to get you on so obviously your time Paul. So Nick, before we get in rabbit holes, because we tried to have a conversation, I said stop talking because I’ll get the microphone, actually going down rabbit holes that are, you know, truthfully, whether people agree with you or agree with me or like you or don’t like me or whatever, in the end of the day, we’re willing to put a voice to a name and be able to, you know, and convey a message. So the first question I want to ask you is you’re running for a seat, you’re a Senate candidate. Tell us what you’re up to mate and why.
[00:04:12] Nick: So what I’ve been up to over the last nearly 130 days Finney, I’ve traveled about 32,000 kilometers around Western Australia, probably a bit more, probably at around the 37 or drive a few with a few other people but I’ve been from Broome to Esperance and from Mengain up to Geraldton and most places in between. So, you’ve got to get around and see the people and so is he being in that people in the country were received, but we also got to cover mining and pastoral and we’ve also got to go down into the Wheat Belt. So we cover a lot of the area but then after Christmas, we’ve got to go to Perth. And the reason we do it, mate, my life’s been pretty good. I’ve had a pretty charm run. I’ve got a great son, a lovely wife and opportunity has come more way through hard work so the minute of time a year off work and funded myself to have a crack because life has been good to me, Finney, and I reckon I can make it good for other people. And one of the things I always said when I had the business was surround yourself with smarter people and you don’t need to be the smartest bloke in the room. You got to be able to recognize who the smartest bloke in the room is. All woman for that matter and be able to draw their strengths out and put them together and as I say, I wasn’t the smartest academically, I was an undergrad miner when I started. I mucked around at school and my marks weren’t good enough but I had a bloody good time with a lot of good mates, Finney. It was one of those things mate.
[00:05:37] Peter: It’s funny, we talk about all another demographics in the WA market, the farm, there’s oil. This is not just a mining state. I know it’s number one obviously a commodity or things that happens in WA, but there’s a man of people and a lot of other infrastructure, we could be using what we’ve got in our backyard to benefit so many people.
[00:05:59] Nick: When you look at Agriculture at the minute, I was under attack by trying to stop the ship but you also then look at the other side of the country and they’re in drought, mate. And before that KPI [00:06:10] over here, when that triad ends mate, we need to restock the eastern states so there’s a big– we take it–
[00:06:18] Peter: We look beautifully in green too so I’ve been to Ning and Cobar Wade, Wade Greenwood my operation goes the channel four. He’s the operation, labor and training coordinator and he’s done a recruitment job, he’s a golfer. So he goes–
[00:06:31] Nick: Too much too many things.
[00:06:33] Peter: Well, he goes every weekend. I went for a couple of trip with him and we go to places that were really drought affected. And we go, “Hey look, we’re from the mines. But we’re not here to fill your works, we’re here to help you. If you just want a job, mining’s good right now. You can work half a year, work in the mines, and get by it. The worst case scenario, you work a half.” Farmers couldn’t believe it. They’re still working for us today. Obviously the drought is still going on. One guy pulls me up, and he goes, “So you pay me for seven days on and then you give me seven days off and then we’re doing it all over again. And I said, “This is how I’m working half a year and getting a full year’s wage.” The different attitude that you carry into it was amazing and we talk about it being good over here and bad over there. We’ve got to have that yin and yang effect to be able to help each other out. I’ve note this from farming but mining and everything else as well.
[00:07:18] Nick: That’s right and that’s one of the obligations mining has, Finney, as you say what has mining give communities? Well, yes, it’s jobs but there’s also other responsibility that goes with that. So if our workers need a daycare for their kids, if they need, you know, we need to have good facilities in towns too because at the end of the day, the miners make more money if the services that they use are cheaper and if everyone’s coming out of Perth, that doesn’t work mate. You need to have local businesses supporting the industry. So it’s one thing to say finance is great. If you lived on the coast or sand palm, it is. But we also know that mining leaves behind some legacies and one of those that’s really coming to the fore, there’s some mental health issues that really come to the fore now.
[00:08:06] Peter: We can talk about this but no worries. Cool.
[00:08:10] Nick: There’s a lot of legacies that mining leaves and you’ll get people that want to sip on their [00:08:16] and say, “Oh, you shouldn’t be out to dig holes in the ground,” but if all the people in mining weren’t working in mining, they need to be somewhere else and that’s what allows you to have the nice shops in Perth. But there is no reason to say why we shouldn’t have a nice shop here in Kalgoorlie either mate. We should be able to have equivalent health services, equivalent daycare, gather the local Toyota dealership, whatever you want. There is no reason why country people don’t deserve that as well because every time we export, it might be 100 ship that might allow us to get to 10 or phones into the country. So there’s got to be a yin and a yang to that that the balance of what we send out, there’s a balance of what comes back.
[00:08:56] Peter: Mate, you got all this– I had to write notes down, list down real quickly because I’m thinking to myself, you know, the tax fraud who’s had come out. The infrastructure doesn’t get pulled in. The money that comes from the areas like in Cobar right now, my hometown in New South Wales. I went and seen them a little while ago and they’re struggling to get a water pipeline upgrade from Cobar and — Ningar to Cobar, excuse me. And the man of per capita, the mines and the road is that town punches at is better than some cities and when I was in some small cities and it sort of like, how the F can we not get a pipeline upgrade or why is it taking so long, and the infrastructure that needs to go into these communities. We talked about it before, the only thing you take it all off is the relationship you have in it and the communities you live in.
[00:09:40] Nick: Yes. And it’s pretty hard. There’s a lot more votes in the city, Finney. That’s a reality of what happens and when you get 10 people vote for something versus for one, the 10 people will get it but the reality is, we need better infrastructure in regional Australia. We’ve gone in some cases, cities of no infrastructure being built or upgraded and we forget that those industries, whether it be out of Cobar, goats or sheep or whatever, they need to get them on to fright, and on the roads, into markets, and to have some tours. And so you need good roads and you need good infrastructure but then the people out there doing that work, they’re entitled because they contribute to the GDP of this country and I’ll give you the tip, Cobar would put more into the GDP than many and most suburban towns and that’s the same Kalgoorlie, Kambalda. Kalgoorlie is 1.9 billion. Kambalda, the shire of Coolgardie contributes $3.2 billion to GDP. There’s about 8,000 people who live in the shire. But I give you the tip, 5,000 people on the coast or sand plane don’t contribute that to GDP. What they do is something that comes from Kambalda. They might value added bid or do something there but they don’t actually produce that GDP, so we need to realize where the wealth in this country is actually generated, mate. People juggling finances in banks which we’ve seen them or come to growth. That’s one aspect to it but when we go back in the history of things, this country was built from a strong rural and regional Australia and Western Australia.
[00:11:10] Peter: So mate, obviously you talk a bit of purpose here. now, there’s two angles I can go here. I can revert back and try and get back to your story to hey, you’ve come to this spot but before we do that, I want to talk about us as a country. So I’m only young, okay, so I’m 34 years old. I think about when the last GFC hit, we went down and we’re all trying to keep the mining market stable moving forward. That’s the big word getting thrown around at the moment. Now I start thinking about the government. Hell, we need to have faith from a local point of view, when you think about the GFC comes, so Johnny Howard’s gone, Kevin Rudd comes in then Julia Gillard, and then Tony Abbott, and then Malcolm and now ScoMo. Like seriously, and all of a sudden, all they talked about that first GFC was diversification away from mining. Getting away from our backbone, having more industries. But because it’s been so transient up the top, then all of a sudden we find ourselves back on the mining doorstep. Mate, excuse me, you don’t have to get your royalties because times are good again.
[00:12:18] Nick: So that might go around, and that’s what I found over the 32,000 kilometers off driven that merry go round is why people are going to smaller parties and that’s why as a national in Western Australia, we haven’t got federal representation. So that’s why we’re trying to get some because you’ve got to recognize the mistakes but you’ve also got to put your hand up and say we haven’t had stable government, stable leadership. And we need that but we don’t get that when you’ve got ambitious little people that have never been out in the regions, never done a day’s work and you’re 34, I come to this at as 50 next year. I got a 10-year-old son and I reckon that you need some real life experiences back into politics Finney. I started life as an underground laborer and then got onto an air-leg, then a jumbo and then jumped off that, went from 120 grand a year back to 15,700 pay in the first year apprentice, mate. So and I was lucky enough to finish my trade work for a couple of different companies and then started my own company which I was lucky enough to go on. I sold some shareholding down. We grew the company to 130 people in three different states. And then now that I’ve sold that off, because I didn’t have all of it when I left it, but it’s slightly reasonably comfortable mate. So you got to look at where you come from and what experiences you bring to that and what you say– Yes, they are life skills but they also you got to remember where you come from to know where you’re going. If you lose sight of that, you’ve lost something and kids around you, your mates around you, they’ll look at you and say, “Mate, what have you contributed?” Well, I’ll have upskilled along the way and I’ve had been lucky enough to being able to go from being an air-legger to an apprentice. And that’s not true hard work, that’s through taking the opportunities, but it’s also sort of companies giving those opportunities. So if you’re presented with an opportunity, take it and it might be done over the safety training or something like that. But every time in the mining industry, we go into a boom and bust, you got to be trying to upskill yourself all the time, so that when you come down the other side of it, you’ve got more skills than what you started with. And if you take those skills to somewhere else, another industry that’s great, but we’ve managed through the cities in this and I’ll say that the red and the blue team of politics was managed to get rid of the car industry. We don’t have that. So we only have mining and agriculture, mate.
[00:14:45] Peter: Let’s talk about this. The reason why it resonates to me and I want to get back into your personal story to how you grew up and lots of stuff in a little bit, because I think it’s really important that people that listens to this podcast understand where you come from a DNA point of view. Now, we talk about my team, so Wade Greenwood who you met today and he was a principal of a small agricultural town called Warren and he’s a baller maker by background. And you know, he was talking about how he became a baller maker, how he became a Tafe teacher, and then he became a school teacher, and then he became a principal. And then he’s under the device I was saying, well, actually, you know, some of the people that he was associated with in education system had no life skills to, you know, be able to resonate with real life experiences. And all they’ve done is going to schools and then going to university and now they’re teaching their kids. So is there some sort of thing we should be looking at as a whole to– the reason why I got him on board because I’m really keen to invest in the future, of becoming a training organization, trying to invest in and relate with the podcast and all the social media work that I do. And with guys like him to give people influence about the perception of mining, not just being money because you mentioned mining to people outside of this, I think money, this is the where we got to get that yin and yang right from political point of view, where you have nationals you’re looking after this region but also we’re saying to the city people that if you want something different, you have to go to where it’s better and it’s right in our backyard.
[00:16:14] Nick: We quite often in the country, you sort of the ascend from the decision made in the city. We’ve got to get the city people to start thinking the other way around that we’re going to make good decisions to keep people in the country, to keep things going along. Because as I said, everything that goes on a boat, doesn’t get manufacturing capital cities. It start here in regions and there’s a pretty stark reality that you don’t get many votes in the country so you can’t waste them but I say that about Western Australia as well. We look at where we are as a state and we say a few handouts going on over the East Coast, you think, well, and we’re not typically winges in Western Australia, mate. We made a bit of noise about the JST but someone takes $28 billion off a year, you’re entitled to have your say. So when you look at where you’re from, where you’re going, you’ve got to have that clarity and I love living in regional Australia. It doesn’t matter if I was in Townsville or I was in Kalgoorlie, you’ve got to have pride in your communities, pride in your mates, and you got to be confident that you’re building a better situation for your kids and that means opportunities, and that means when you’re at local mine office in apprenticeship, we’ve got the confidence to put a bloke on. The mining industry needs people, they come and take him from somewhere else. We got to train people in our industry and that means training young people, and we’ve got to be competent who we train. We’ve got to have the skills to train them properly. And a lot of your tribesman out there could do with an apprentice but sometimes in the city they say oh that’s an extra 50 cents an hour off their base cost price and all that so–
[00:17:55] Peter: It’s a shallow reason when you start getting motivated by money as well.
[00:17:59] Nick: Yes, there’s some, by all means when the price goes up when fitters and baller/bottle makers and sparkies are, you know, they’re getting 55-60 bucks an hour, they all want to winge about that, “You’re not worth that, but oh well, that’s the way it goes.” That’s the shortage that’s being created by people that didn’t look forward and I emphasize that they didn’t look forward and say we should be training today.
[00:18:24] Peter: I agree. I think– I don’t know how true, have you ever heard someone go, you know, obviously why we’re looking at the training avenue to how we’re going to invest in the future they put on 14 apprentices and not quite as really good. Is that enough? And that’s one company. We need nearly everyone to put people on to contribute to that number. I don’t know the official number for the apprenticeship. I should bring Wade Greenwood and have a chat about it. But for me, and this is probably why you having a 10 year old boy and me having a young family as well, the reason why I’m keen to get influenced and no different to probably yourself. We know the reasons why you’re running for Senate is to be able to make the future better for not just us, not not the now, not just the present but the future.
[00:19:14] Nick: Yes, and I know there are companies in and around Kalgoorlie. Some of them employ well over 100 tribesmen but they didn’t train 100 tribesmen so those tribesmen come from somewhere and you look at the big companies up in the ire and ore and some of them employ thousands of tradesmen literally over 1,000 tribesmen, some of the big two do employ but do they train enough? Well, I’ll tell you no. And someone else might say, we got this nice little program but it’s bloody lip service to what we need as a country because if we don’t continually upskill people, and if they complain that, you know, no one wants to get work with the heat and the flies as well, that’s bad luck. That’s where the work is. We need people out there. If you need to pay more, you need to pay more. Take it out of your $38 billion in profit, but don’t whinge that there’s no one when you can have a direct influence on it today. And i’ll tell you now, companies that don’t stick to a– for every seven tradesmen having one apprentice, they’re the ones that aren’t contributing to the industry.
[00:20:20] Peter: Mate, I’m not going to go into the amount of benefits that are out there. If people actually want to get past their weekly paycheck or their dividends or profit margin in the end of the week because there’s a lot of ways that the governments are helping. This is why employee Wade Greenwood as an example to help us benefit from the– I guess the options that are out there from that level. Now it’s a touchy subject because what am I going to be talking about in 20 years time when I’m your age? Hopefully, I’m not going to be trying to become a Senate, mate, somewhere. But let’s talk about your own personal story. So, mate, where’d you grow up? What are mom and dad do? Brothers, sisters, I want to get paint people a picture to why you’re so motivated now to put the mouthguard in and have a run at this.
[00:21:12] Nick: So I grew up in Broken Hill in New South Wales. My old man was an electrician.
[00:21:18] Peter: We should cancel this interview right now, Broken Hill and Cobar people don’t get along, you know that.
[00:21:22] Nick: That’s why I was keeping it quiet. So I grew up there. Mom was a nurse and the matron at the nursing home and then the old man was an electrician. He’s a house special around town. So I was young and I didn’t do an apprenticeship within but a bit after that, one of those silly things as you grow up, you think you know everything and you sort of realized a bit later in life that he probably was the smartest bloke on you and he was a great role model and you look at your morals and values and I got them from him. So I still rate him is one of the greatest blokes I know. Since his passing, I still talk to him. Right now I still have a yake for him every day, if I’m in doubt about something and always get the answer back from him, “You know better than that because I taught you better than that,” and and that’s sort of where I come from. But I had a crack at playing footy for a living I thought being six foot eight I was capable but Malcolm Blight sent me back to the bush and said, “Mate, I think you’re better off back up the bush.” So back up the bush I went. Then Broken Hill had a downturn so I came to Western Australia and I’ve been here for since I was about 22. So 27 years ago, I came across the Western Australia and–
[00:22:35] Peter: And a lot of people from Cobar and Broken Hill are here. I’ve got a lot of family, friends and family that are around the region. They’re not miners but were transient sort of people.
[00:22:44] Nick: Not only that but underground mining especially is a very small industry and I met people when I was up in Mount Isa working out there and the rock drill boys from Tassie and all that we all know someone who knows someone so it’s a very small family. And you always unfortunately when you see a fatality somewhere, you really feel for the whole industry because it is so close and so many skills from those old guys about how to stay alive and how to be good workers you picked your ethic out from those old blokes and that was the thing about being an air legger. You’re that close to the rock face that– no, it’s not about market oriented at all, mate. But you learn about the ground, you learn how to read it, hear it, and sand it out and stuff and then when you went on the machines I thought going under the jumbo. You’re a bit better equipped to make better decisions.
[00:23:36] Peter: Living on earth and I’ll jump off right now. An old miner told me, he goes, “Mate, I couldn’t believe it. This thing did everything for you.”
[00:23:41] Nick: Yes, they get spoon fed now, mate because they just have people running around after him but back then you had to do everything yourself, charge yourself off the jumbo boom. I don’t miss some of our safety of those days and there’s a way that it goes still these days we’ve got to be vigilant.
[00:23:57] Peter: We’ve evolved though.
[00:23:59] Nick: We’ve got better. Whether it produces a better person, I don’t know. We seem to have a lot more camaraderie. We seem to be able to, if you had a problem, speak up. And we seem to– we still in the industry have a problem where people are too shy to say the shift right now. We got to stop production here because we need to go and rectify this. You’ve given every opportunity to do it and we still when we look at some of the accidents that have happened, people are, I had to get a cut or I had to do this or I had to get another trucker dirty. We we don’t pull up often enough. It’s like that you want to see why this the side of the streets full of rubbish, it’s because everyone who walks past drops a piece and now picks two up. And we’ve got to get back to that little bit of effort, stop walking past it, and get involved in it. And that sort of say about apprentices, stop walking past the fact that we got a shortage, do something about it, employ an apprentice. And that’s the flat out matter of it.
[00:24:58] Peter: Mate, it’s funny, I’m not a keynote speaker. I see this for a couple of times. I don’t know if you’ve seen on the podcast or not, but I gave a keynote speaker a little while ago some tradesmen and I said to him, I said, obviously the side of a joke and got everybody in the mood. There’s only about 10 of the guys there and I said, “Kids today, let’s talk about apprentices.” So we just go around and talk about what’s wrong with them, what do they do from an action point of view and they’re unresilient, they’re on their phone for about 10 minutes these guys just pride their kids just like they got poor work ethic, they can’t pay attention long enough. I said, right, cool. I said, “What do you think the tradesmen said about you when you come through as an apprentice?” And they’re like, “Holy shit. Is that same thing we’re saying now?” So it’s not them that has to evolve to the loss, it’s us who’s got to evolve to them to be able to create that environment and bring the best out of it. Now, the reason why there’s probably this interview, obviously, having a young family like myself, but on your own personal journey, you’re gone from being an A-league miner to obviously mining’s evolved. We are going to look at the stats of how much bad stuff has happened specially back in them days of mining as we evolve but also you left and went and done an apprenticeship, mate.
[00:26:08] Nick: Yes, so there’s two apprenticeships who didn’t fill so I took the apprenticeship option which I intended to go back to but as luck would have it or didn’t but I always– no, electrical. But I was– so I still emphasize that I suck at underground mining electrical and that was the company that I founded, J T Mining Electrical. So I stuck at where my strength was but I found it easier working with underground electricians. I can understand what fitters and stuff did. You knew what baller makers did but I didn’t, I couldn’t understand the electrics even though dad was an electrician. I had a rough idea but I went and learned because I fully intended to go back shift bottom, but I enjoyed the electrical so much and made a quit at it along the way which there’s no harm in that. And it provided a lot of opportunities mate so I don’t regret the decision, just that’s the sort of way the path took. And here we worked hard at it all the while, we were stressed. We worked bloody hard. It was 16-hour a day and I’ve done 36-hour shifts trying to get something going. You’re not allowed to do that these days obviously but during, there was nothing to draw of 80 hours to pull a stop button out for a miner. People thought it was a bigger problem than what it was some days but yes, it’s one of those things,mate. The apprenticeship was great as the site was hard work but if it gave you that skill, it was that next skill and then even when you went to fix the jumbo you could move the labors and that you knew what was meant to happen and sometimes jumbo price couldn’t tell you exactly what it was yeah but if you knew that jumbo are prided from being on shift with him, you knew if he was telling a fib or you knew if he was having a crack and those blokes, the good ones, they know their machine.
[00:28:02] Peter: You must be loving this innovation stuff that is getting around, mate. I’m thinking, gee, wish I was back which I was still around J T and all the boys now because some of the stuff that’s coming out is crazy, isn’t it?
[00:28:12] Nick: So that’s one of the reasons I still come to expose a lot of this, Finney, is to say what’s about it. I spent half hour over there with the RCT boys.
[00:28:20] Peter: Yes, crazy and how goods that setup?
[00:28:21] Nick: Yes. It’s going further.
[00:28:25] Peter: And the learning ability that gives people.
[00:28:27] Nick: Yes. The biggest thing that we struggled to embrace is technology, and we need to remember that every time we automate something that puts someone out of work. So when we see these massive big mines that are in a 30 mine life and they’re all remote and all that, that’s fine. If those jobs are in Perth, I mean, good luck to them, but at the end of the day, we still need people at drilling holes in the ground exploring and a lot of the gold mines and places like that, the nickel mines because they are underground. They’re not a surface deposit. They can only get three or four years ahead. So they need the labor force to still be here to support that industry and the nickel processing and gold processing is processed here in Australia whereas the iron or it’s a conveyor belt that goes to China, mate, so we need to make sure that we’ve got tradesmen on that conveyor belt that actually know how to fix the conveyor belt or fix the rollers and you won’t get that in a control room in Perth.
[00:29:22] Peter: So I’m going to talking about innovation on a level. I’m involved with a bit of a couple of startups. In Perth, I got an office called The Core Innovation Office in St. Georges Terrace and there’s some really smart guys in there and a couple guys that pitched to me. I like to invest in guys at it, in people that is like putting a bet on a horse. Instead of watching the horse go around the paddock, I get it put a bed on a human and see what comes out on the other end of it. And during the time, networking and meeting guys, I met this guy called Daniel Milford. Now, Daniel Milford runs a company called Chironix. Now you should check out Daniel on the podcast because he talks about heavily, very smart dude. He talks about how heavily the integration that you still need and has to happen between robots and humans or innovation and humans, you know, Google Glass and that sort of stuff and the biggest thing that he impressed me with is older guys who are potentially mine managers of GM, they sort of have a fixed mindset. They don’t have that, I guess electricity in their brain to be able to adapt to something different. And it’s usually a talk to PJL about it which you know, you know PJL about it, yet beforehand, well, they sort of said, it’s usually the first people that give an innovative idea ago that will be rewarded the most.
[00:30:39] Nick: You see that through technologies throughout the ages, the example of that is Kodak cameras, but it didn’t impress the digital technology and now they don’t exist. Nokia didn’t embrace smartphones and now they don’t exist but you go back in their time, they were leaders. So technology, we need to invest in it, we need to invest in it, we need to invest in it. It does, it creates future opportunities and I don’t say don’t automate, it should make the workplace safer. And we saw in gold mining 30 years ago when we changed our process, it created more opportunity and rotate trading the tiles because we got smarter at doing it. So where we, 30 years ago, 25 years ago, we only traded 16 gramper now we trade 0.8 of a gramper, and that’s technology that’s done that.
[00:31:29] Peter: Great upskilling.
[00:31:31] Nick: That’s right so we can use technology and we need to use technology. It will go into the battery market, it will go into all sorts of things so there’s plenty of that technology will do for us. We’ll have automatic cars shortly. Even battery cars people say, “but driving out of Kalgoorlie, it’s too far.” The batteries will get better, the technology will be in there. We say with lights, just lights alone how much energy is now required in a light where it used to be what was 70 watts. If we had 70 watts in an LED, it’d be at the top of the MCG Towers. So everything in technology we need to embrace but we got to be careful how we-
[00:32:12] Peter: Integrate it.
[00:32:12] Nick: -integrate it. That’s where the problems lie.
[00:32:14] Peter: Fully agree mate. So I do know the JG boys obviously JTMEC, is it what it is?
[00:32:20] Nick: Yes, JTMEC, in Kalgoorlie at the back of a Nissan Skyline Station Wagon that had a bale of hay in it for the first six months because we were that busy, I didn’t have time to take it out.
[00:32:32] Peter: Mate, so on the back of that you obviously, I can’t think of any of your business partner’s names, I had a bear with one in diggers and dealers, he’s a really good guy!
[00:32:40] Nick: Shane Properjohn, Gary French?
[00:32:43] Peter: Gary it was, I think Shane’s in a bit of health problems at the moment. He said–
[00:32:45] Nick: He’s had a few wins lately. He’s got a game set but he’s a trooper, mate. He’s a real– he’s a cracking bloke. There’s not a person that thinks ill of Shane, and he’s got a bit of a fight on his hands but he knows that and he’s going hard at it mate, so–
[00:33:01] Peter: Gary gave me a good wrap on the blog and he said he’s a champion and I think Gary wasn’t really enjoying saying you go for it as, you know, once again, the only thing you take it all off is the relationships you have in it and who you spend your time with and that’s a primary example of that.
[00:33:17] Nick: Yes, Shane’s going harder at the minute. He’s had some good news recently but he got a big fight ahead of him so yes, he’s a kraken and bloke and there’s a lot of people that wish him the best affairs at least in the– even though that– he knows it. There’s a lot of people out there wishing him the best so–
[00:33:34] Peter: He’s probably sick of hearing your voice over the years I reckon.
[00:33:37] Nick: No, never got this much talking in in one mode with him. I’ll give you the tip, that would have kicked me out.
[00:33:43] Peter: Very good. Mate, where do we go from here? So you decided to I guess run, what’s going on? Were you just thinking to yourself, fuck it. I’m just going to have a run at least and see how I go and impact and I guess something that you care about so much and why the nationals and all that sort of stuff like–
[00:34:02] Nick: Yeah, so the reason–
[00:34:03] Peter: just give it a good break down.
[00:34:04] Nick: Yea. The reason I got involved was because a mate of mine, Tony Cooker, the last federal politician for the nationals in West Australia. What Tony achieved was really good and then a bloke called Brendon Grylls, good old block with a lisp mate from the white belt. He took on politics and changed the face of politics and he changed the face of original West Australia and Brendon’s a cracking bloke. He’s the one who built realities for regions around and that went a long way to change in the outcome for a lot of people regionally. And Brendan had a great philosophy that was dug up and it came out of original WA so it should be spent in regional WA making regional WA better, and he achieved a lot of that. A great person person that helped him was Wendy Duncan and Wendy’s been a real inspiration for myself, so there was some good positive role models. Now, good people and they achieved good things and it’s actually with the nationals in WA. It’s politics per region. It’s not about red and blue or the left and right. It’s about if it’s good for your region, you vote for it and if someone’s telling you there’s something that’s bad for your region, tell them to get stuff done on their back. Point out to them why it’s good for the region and why it will be good for the whole state. And you generally find when you put it to people that way that it’s not about the politics of left and right or red and blue teams as we like to say, it’s about, if it’s good for the people who put me in, I’ll vote for it and it’s a pretty easy philosophy. There’s a lot of good things happening in regional WA and to be able to get on board and push those good things and provide opportunity for people to keep doing those good things, that doesn’t matter whether it’s a health care or hospital, doesn’t matter whether it’s a road or a highway, a hospital or a daycare center, and that happens all across WA. We miss out on some road funding through our fuel excise taxes. We need good roads in Western Australia so we can get our product to port. So if it’s good for Western Australia, it’s good for Nick Fardell and the nationals will be the first one on board with it, so it doesn’t matter as I say left or right, get in the middle hard working people want to bring their kids up properly, want to look after their parents, want to pay the mortgage and not scared to go to work and have a crack and they’re the people that I get on really well with enough, got a lot of time for. But along the way, there will be some that can, there will be some a bit less fortunate. You got to be prepared to get down to their level and get in the dust and help them and that’s– you help 10 people up, some of it will come along and say one day, thanks for that leg up because they weren’t ignored, they got listened to and that’s after nearly 50 years I’ve been on this planet, You’ve got to listen to people and find out what affects a lot in life and see if you can change it or point them in the direction where there’s a good opportunity.
[00:36:57] Peter: Did you ever think that reflecting on life and obviously you’ve had a good reflection on your life, just having this conversation, that you’d be doing what you’re doing right now Nick at 50 because obviously, you didn’t miss a beat there when you were talking mate.
[00:37:09] Nick: No. Look, I didn’t but I’ll admit politics has always interested me. I couldn’t understand for 30 years why a couple of senators held Australia for ransom, and that was the Queenstown in Tasmania. I could never understand why more people didn’t put themselves in that spot to affect the outcome and then it really came together when I saw realtors for regions here in WA that you didn’t have to be the majority. You could be in the minority but you could affect the majority of the outcome and they will be people that winge and say that the road is for agent’s program, didn’t suit them or they might have wasted some money here and there but they can say that. Say it all they want. They talk about a talking toilet down in Manimal, but the fact of the matter is one talking toilet down there, there was already 46 of them in Perth. So you got to be careful what you say some days because it comes around to haunt you. But if you got to have a crack and stick your head up, some people have a crack at it mate and mine’s big enough and ugly enough that there’ll be a few of that are cracking and a few I have in the past, mate, don’t ever shy away from where I come from, that people haven’t had a crack and that happens, mate. You just got to, as you get older, you realize there’s an easier and better way to do things and that is be involved. And the road doesn’t change unless people stand up and be involved and that’s what I’m lucky enough to be having a go at doing that.
[00:38:38] Peter: Mate, I tell you one thing, Nick, is I’ve got a feeling you’re not frightened to have a tough conversation.
[00:38:44] Nick: You got to have a tough conversation, mate, but the conversation doesn’t have to be derogatory. The tough conversation isn’t a problem that when you’ve got an opinion, you got to be prepared to prosecute it. But over the journey, I’ve learned and I’ve witnessed and we all have it that’s why we’re a bit disappointed with politics of the big parties at the minute that the negativity and the way we talk to people, we’ve forgotten that you don’t have to be derogatory all the time. Sometimes you can just say. “Mate, pull your head in.” You don’t have to go on and on about it. If some of the stuff we see out of our politicians, if your kids behave like that, you give them a whack on the back of the legs, mate, and say, “Don’t you talk to someone like that,” but we’ve lost that. There’s a bit of– its the politics I hate that I refer to it. We got to get away from that and get back and bloody well talk to people.
[00:39:41] Peter: Have a conversation or even if you don’t agree with people, at the end of the day, I’m not going to go on trying to articulate my views or become one sided and that’s why a lot of people buy the newspaper these days, they go, I can’t buy the telly because it tells me these and I can’t buy the Western Australian because it tells me this. It’s about the ABC’s is so over at the moment. And I think the big thing that I always take you out and by understanding you appear to have a tough genuine environment created conversation that you put value around that conversation, that relationship, whether you agree or don’t agree to get an outcome that’s best for everybody else outside of it.
[00:40:16] Nick: That’s right as I say, you can go through the politics of hate, or that can stop being about — and that’s what I think we don’t like about politicians now. It’s about them, and I kept saying my views, they never say my electers told me this and this is the position I’ve taken because I went out and bloody well talked to him. And I drove around the state and talked to people and I’m going to drive up there and talk to that person because he or she or they or the family or the community has got a problem. The politics of hate has taken us to a place where we forgot about the average ordinary day person who wants to pay their mortgage, who wants their kids to go to a good school, who wants to school teachers to be nice and polite to them, who want to get educated. And then who’s looking after my mom and dad and are they in a good place and can the hospital cope for them, or am I going to be waiting on a hospital bed in a hallway because two politicians are at an argument and we knock the nurses off to save some money. Or did my house burn down because we’re knocked off half a dozen fire brigades because we wanted to save some money. We want to make good decisions. There’s a lot of people you get the end of nitty-gritty issues. There’s a lot better way we can spend our money and we need to really look at the way we spend the money because it’s not the politicians, it’s bloody well yours. Politicians want to turn out and say, here’s a check for this much and say thank you to me, well, that’s a bit of bullshit. It’s your money, you earn it, you gave it to the government, the government should be spending it wisely and you’ve got every right to insist on that. And if some politician gets upset because you criticize them about spending money here, there or anywhere, well, they are the wrong ones and we shouldn’t be voting for them.
[00:42:03] Peter: You make me think deep, mate. I’ll tell you what makes me think and we talked about it very early in the conversation with the trains and from the high-end point of view of Prime Minister’s coming and going, the big seat. Now let’s talk about do you ever sometimes, obviously, you’re not motivated by money, you’re not motivated by being wanted or being validated. Obviously, you’re motivated for the people and what you care about in life in general and the future but gee, mate, some of the people I see jump on a microphone or jump on TV feels like they’re so unrelatable and they trying to be validated or wanted for the sake of their own insecurities or life. They’re not actually doing it for someone else.
[00:42:48] Nick: Mate, it’s one of the things that I was told early in politics is you’re not going to please everyone. I’m not about plays and everyone because if you make good decisions, people can live with the fact that you had a bloody guy. It’s when you don’t have a goal and you’re too scared to make a decision and you don’t turn up when you’re elected to make a decision and be a part of it. When you don’t turn up to that. That’s when people get the shits with you, mate. If you’re going to say that I hate politicians didn’t turn up in the parliament over the gay marriage fight. Well, that’s wrong with him not to turn up. They should have turned up and had their say. They should have represented the people that they vote for, that voted for them. But the thing that annoys me about that, we had 156 politicians there and they couldn’t make a decision and then we spent $177 million going to a clever side, there’s something wrong in that to me that we forgot about the average, the bloke on the ground, and his wife and his kids. And I don’t care if it’s two wives or two fathers, I really don’t, $177 million could have been spent so well on day care, could have been spent so well on age care. And they could have made that decision and that’s what people get sick of because that argument became very passionate, but it also became very hateful, and the majority of people in Australia don’t want to see that. They want to see make the decision, get on with it and we move forward and that wasn’t right what happened there and I stick to that. I’ll be criticized for it but mate, as I said not everyone’s going to vote for me and I’m not scared of that.
[00:44:33] Peter: Yes, it’s a big thing to be certain in yourself mate. And I take my head off to you putting yourself in this position to make a difference and I say that to a lot of policies and you’re actually the first one that ever come on, mate, to tell you the truth. I don’t know whether I’m that scary when I interview but I don’t think that’s the case. I just think I have had an opportunity to catch up with many, obviously, a lot of my stuff is mining and I guess what made me lucrative to get you on the podcast is obviously I know you’ve been following the podcast is because obviously you got a lot of good mining characters that have obviously come on there, Graham and Gary, the mayor of Kalgoorlie, John Bowler, and obviously, you got a lot of rich history from a personal point of view in the WA region in general.
[00:45:15] Nick: Yes, mate. So I know those blokes pretty well. I know a lot of the people that go on your podcasts but it’s the down to earth, you don’t have to– and that’s what I find everyone says, “ Oh you got to do a speech, you got to have this prepared well.” Just answer the questions. One of the reasons I’m allowed to do this this way, is my wife said to me if ever you’re asked a question and you don’t answer it, I’ll be on the phone and you will be coming home because she was sick to death of seeing politicians not answer a question they are asked, mate. So you’ve got to be true to yourself, and you’ve got to be honest with the people you talk to. And as I said, not everyone’s going to agree, but you don’t need to be hateful, and you don’t need to be spiteful because if you’re going to change the outcome, if you’re going to stand up and be involved, the only way we change in the outcome is people turn up and those that turn up make a difference and that doesn’t mean with whether you’re a politician, that in everything mate because if you turn up to a training and you got to train apprentices and you turn up to do it, you do it. If you’re going to turn up to work and you’re going to be safe, you’ll be safe. So we need everyone to turn up and that’s the thing, if you can turn up, you can have a go in it. It entitles you to have a go. When someone says that’s not your luck, we would say, “Hang on mate, I’m here having a go,” and that’s the ultimate of whether this is done today, mate. He’s turned up another go, and other people have jumped behind him, mate.
[00:46:45] Peter: You know, it’s funny, I sit on a podcast, I think it might be Episode 12 in Full Production but it’s easy for people to sit around and get a paycheck every week and criticize the company they work for but just put the mouth guard in and have a run at it. Like seriously, it’s scary in your fail of going ups and downs and I’m only young but it’s how you bounce back with what makes the opportunity and I see good people, happy people work and be happy and are sick with their life. But if you’re really not going to make a difference with passion and purpose, then don’t go knock on someone who’s trying, whether you agree or don’t agree.
[00:47:22] Nick: Now, that’s true and your focus has got to be what’s important to yourself. If it is work, well that’s work, that’s great but if your focus is your family too, people are going to respect that as well. If your focus is your kid, that’s great. If it’s muscle cars, well, that’s great as well. And be focused and drive yourself along to achieve what you want to do and there’s plenty of people that have probably looked back over the journey and go, did I achieve, well, I don’t know. Did I have a go, yes, I had a bloody go. As long as you can say, I had a go, people will gravitate to you and they say that successful people surround themselves with other successful people, but I believe that people having a go, surround themselves with other people having a go, and whether you’re smart or not, if you’re having a go, you’ll tend to find that people will pat you on the back. I member a bloke said to me when we started the business are, “Go and get it out of your system and once you filed all I’ll give you a job but for the slider actually importing a gloss over this bot or didn’t didn’t get home and soccer be added or thought I’m gonna have a feeling and once you failed, I’ll give you a job but five years later I actually employed him. It didn’t last long with us but I didn’t go home and talk about it, I thought, right I’m going to have a fair dinkum go at this, you did this 16 hours, mate. It doesn’t matter.
[00:48:31] Peter: What goes around, comes around. Just have one of our guy, you would have been associated with loot from PJL in here, and he’s saying things. He said, people said it’s not going to work and look at how well they are in now.
[00:48:44] Nick: Look, he’s a good bloke, PJ. I had a bit to do with him. But at the end of the day, mate, you can you can sit on your hands but I’ll tell you, you got to have a focus somewhere and it’s the same whether it’s your business, your work, your family, your town, your community. As I said, that can be muscle cars or straight cars or it can be a game of 40, that can be a game of netball, table hockey. If it’s making a case for more women in business, do it and do it well and go bloody hard at it, because we need people to have a go. And as long as you’re having a go, you may fall over.
[00:49:20] Peter: You know you’re being on my local– we’ll probably keep on talking. Let’s get to a point of wrapping it up. I can see Gary now and JJ in the background going “Shhh.” I’ll wrap him up. Mate, just quickly, what makes you nervous about the mining game?
[00:49:39] Nick: What makes me nervous is if you get too many kids running companies that they don’t have a strong history of where we’ve come from and what it takes to make really successful mines and the example of leadership. It’s good to come out of the School of Mines, but you got to go away and do your time and then work your way up. You can’t come straight into those leadership roles because some of the times, to make really good decisions, you’ve got to have a really good knowledge base to back it up and we need people. It’s one thing to learn out of a book, it’s another thing to enacted in real life. And not only is there a shortage of really good inspirational leaders, you go back to the great companies like Western Mining and the way they lead and the example I set. A lot of their bosses are still lived in camp Guader when our building, you hear some of the speeches that used to come out of those guys, and it’s really, really crucial that our leaders lead by inclusion and not by do as I say, because the do as I say people, you can’t run it from an office, mate. You got to be on the ground, you got to go and have a look, and you got to get good information, trust it, know that it came from a reliable source to make a good decision.
[00:50:54] Peter: Mate, that can go down a rabbit hole on it’s own, that whole statement. Let’s talk about what makes hear excited about the mining game, because obviously there’s plenty to be excited about the industry as well.
[00:51:04] Nick: When we say opportunity with mining, you got to realize that there’s opportunity in investment, there’s opportunity in employment and there’s opportunity in upskilling yourself with mining. So there’s opportunities for family, so in towns like this, and there’s opportunities for your family if they happen to be in Perth as well. But you’ve got to make sure that that opportunity isn’t strangled by a bit of jealousy or someone that’s stagnated.
[00:51:33] Peter: They’re all motives.
[00:51:34] Nick: Yes, they’re all motives. You can get people that say, well, I’m happy doing this and that’s good, good, so doing that. But don’t stifle people that are going to have a go. You got to put the harness on them and some apprentices want a go, want to go, I want to go, especially in the electrical game. You’re working with something you can’t hear you say, smell, taste or touch.
[00:51:54] Peter: Yes, that’s right.
[00:51:55] Nick: But by christ, if you have done any of the four above. So we’ve got a harness opportunity as I say there’s a lot of opportunities for women in mining. It’s a big push and that’s because of the changing face of mining. So we’ve got to be prepared to give a lot more people.
[00:52:14] Peter: Thanks for coming on, mate, and giving me your time. I appreciate it.
[00:52:16] Nick: My pleasure, mate and good to catch up. We’ll catch you down the track a bit and we’ll have a bit of a– we’ll have a coffee and find that out when– after June next year. I reckon the election will be in May, so we’ll catch up in June again.
[00:52:28] Peter: Okay, mate. I might try and buy you a beer. In the meantime, mate to break the budget. I ain’t look after you.
[00:52:33] Nick: Good on you mate, cheers.
[00:52:35] Male Speaker: Nick, thank you for taking the time to come on Full Production and thank you to all of our listeners, stick around because we have plenty of your guests and yarns coming up in future episodes of the podcast. And don’t forget to join the Full Production Facebook group to get amongst the conversation and keep up with the latest. Catch you next week. Cheers.