POLITICAL aspirant Stuart Bonds has set his sights on helping the "average Joe" overcome issues with multi-billion dollar companies, claiming current regional leaders aren't doing enough for them.
His action follows the Newcastle Herald publishing two stories regarding alleged mistreatment of injured workers at BHP's Mt Arthur Coal mine near Muswellbrook.
The articles detailed the difficulties they, and others, had gone through as a result of their dealings with labour hire employer Chandler Macleod. Mr Bonds, Pauline Hanson's One Nation's (PHON) federal election candidate for Hunter, who is himself a mine worker and member of the CFMEU, spoke out against the way situations had been handled.
Having given a scare to long-term Hunter member Joel Fitzgibbon during the May election, he admitted he'd been getting approached by disgruntled employees from as early as a week after the vote.
"They've been to everybody else and no one has done anything," he explained.
"I don't know why they thought I would be able to do something about this but I just guess that they tried everybody else.
"There's an old saying that if you want to get something done, don't go to the guy who won the election, go to the guy that didn't because he'll actually do something about it."
He quipped that he must have come across as a fortune teller when speaking to Corrine McCarthy, who featured in the Herald article and Mr Bonds knows personally, after telling her how difficult the companies would be to deal with following her spinal injury.
A feature of the saga has been the "passing of the buck" between BHP and Chandler Macleod, he claimed, with the former remaining consistent on their assertion the issues are for the latter to address - and vice versa.
Mr Bonds revealed his frustration on this topic, saying incidents relating to employees are "both of their responsibilities in every aspect".
However, he said the most difficult part of the matter to deal with, was hearing that union officials weren't stick up for their members like he would expect them too.
Brodie Gilks told the Herald "a CFMEU official and a representative from a NSW government trading authority both recommended she accept two weeks' pay and go, with the prospect of maybe "another traineeship or an apprenticeship later on"," and she was too shocked to complain.
The PHON candidate said he was surprised to hear their stance.
"That was the hardest thing for me to accept - the knowledge and the involvement of the union" he said.
"It took me a while for my bias in that direction to be overwhelmed with evidence.
"But, once it was it really opened my eyes up and I think that the union's silence on this really speaks volumes and says more about it than what their defence to it does.
"From what I've read, in the past they would've stormed out of the Hunter Valley, walked out of every mine in the area if this was happening."
The CFMEU did say that it rejects any suggestion it did not represent Ms Gilks' interest.
Dissatisfaction is seemingly growing within Mt Arthur though, and Mr Bonds has revealed some workers have even contacted him expressing their desire for operations to cease until there is a change in management.
He stated that with a lawsuit currently filed against them, a state record enforceable undertaking of approximately $1.1 million being issued earlier this year for a 2017 incident that saw a man significantly burned, and now this latest round of people coming forward to criticise the site's conduct, the mine's reputation had taken a hit.
"BHP has a responsibility to its shareholders to do the right thing, to generate as much income as possible, I get all that and I understand that, but they made $13.6 billion profit last year alone" Mr Bonds said.
"Now you cannot neglect your workers and the community at large to put those profits first, it is getting a bad reputation and understandably so."
A BHP spokesperson responded to the comments with the following statements.
" We have looked into the cases identified in the Newcastle Herald (Brodie Gilks and Corinne McCarthy), and there are individual circumstances that relate to each matter that make it inappropriate for us to comment specifically," they said.
"We have worked closely with Chandler MacLeod, as we do with contracting partners at all of our mines, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the people they have working at Mt Arthur Coal.
"Chandler Macleod has an injury management specialist and an injury prevention specialist on site, and offers 24/7 support to its workforce this is in addition to the facilities that BHP has available for all people who work at the mine, which includes an onsite medical centre offering a range of services including physiotherapy.
"We also now have a standardised process in place at Mt Arthur Coal for how all of our contractors respond when incidents occur."
Chandler Mcleod were contacted but declined to comment.
Part two of the Newcastle Herald article was published in Monday's print edition