Mr Forrest said the money had to be put on the table to ensure suppliers they were serious about securing the equipment and to ensure supply lines remained open.
“We’ve been introduced by very powerful people in China to those suppliers,” he said.
“They know there’ll be instant repercussions if they don’t [provide the supplies].”
The billionaire said China had been “great mates” to Australia.
“You’ve been our mates and I thank the People’s Republic of China for protecting our critical medical orders in the face of intense pressure from other nations,” he said.
China’s consul-general to WA Dong Zhihua said the process of securing the supplies had been overseen by Chinese Ambassador Cheng Jingye.
“You can’t imagine how many technical hurdles they had to overcome,” she said.
“This outbreak of COVID-19 has caught us by surprise, which proves once again in a no less than tragic way that all mankind lives in a community of a shared future.
“In the face of the pandemic, to help others is to help oneself.
“The Chinese people will never forget that Mr Andrew Forrest and FMG has given us valuable support and assistance during the most difficult period of China’s fight against COVID-19.
“The Chinese nation is grateful and always reciprocates others’ kindness.”
The Minderoo Foundation was also to increase WA’s capacity to increase RNA-based diagnostic testing capacity from 400 per day to 10,000 a day, Mr Forrest said.
“We’re aiming to use our partners in China and around the world and across Australia to help the West Australian government ramp up its COVID-19 RNA testing by some 20 times,” he said.
Premier Mark McGowan welcomed Mr Forrest’s intervention.
“If Minderoo is doing that … we welcome every bit of support from every West Australian whether you’re a billionaire or a pensioner,” he said.
The supplies would be used to meet demand in WA before being sent throughout Australia with the assistance of the federal government.
In an email circulated to health department staff on Tuesday, director general David Russell-Weisz said the hospital system had a four to seven-week supply of personal protective equipment.
This included 370,000 surgical masks, 104,000 N95 masks, 30,000 surgical gloves and 8 million gloves, but did not include a state emergency stockpile of medical supplies.
Nathan is WAtoday’s political reporter and the winner of the 2019 Arthur Lovekin Prize for Excellence in Journalism.