From ABC Net: Pearl industry rejects claims made in Four Corners
The Pearl Producers Association (PPA) and Australia's biggest pearl producer, Paspaley Pearls, have criticised the ABC's Four Corners program for its story on safety standards within the industry.The program last night focussed on 22-year-old Jarrod Hampton, who died in the waters south of Broome earlier this year on just his second day working for Paspaley.The program said Mr Hampton was in a drift diving crew of eight, of which five were new to the industry and had not been properly trained.The program said 10 experienced divers quit Paspaley last year after the company refused to raise its price per shell from $3.50 back to $4.50.Former Paspaley diver Jarrad Norton said he told the company that if it kept the price at $3.50, it'd lose experienced divers and says he warned the company that someone would die because of a lack of experience.
"All these people that had left, you know, decades and decades of experience, we all started to leave and we all knew it was gonna happen," he said."I just didn't want that responsibility of that many lives. And I said to the person in question, I said 'I promise you, I guarantee you next year you'll have a serious accident or a fatality unless something changes'. And he said, 'We'll cross that hurdle when we get to it'. And that was enough for me. I was like - I didn't want any part of that."In a statement, Paspaley says it completely rejects any allegation or inference made by Four Corners that it has compromised the safety of its divers."The industry's safety measures have been recognised and commended by the highest safety authorities in Australia, including WA Worksafe and Safe Work Australia," he said."Four Corners has chosen to disregard the official advice, findings and authority of these safety bodies, which are in the strongest position to make accurate judgements on the pearling industry's safety practices."
Paspaley's statement has been backed by the PPA which in its own statement says:"The PPA completely rejects allegations made by Four Corners that the pearling industry is not meeting the most relevant and appropriate safety standards."The PPA also believes it is highly inappropriate to raise questions around safety practices in relation to the recent fatality prior to the completion of the investigations."Paspaley says the death of Jarrod Hampton this year is the first work-related fatality of a Paspaley employee since records commenced in the 1960s.