Inquiry chair upsets mining industry following
REGIONAL communities affected by the divisive issue of fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) and drive-in, drive-out (DIDO) workers may have found the champion they needed in Tony Windsor.
The chairman of the 18-month inquiry into the effects of the growing practice of transporting workers to mining sites rather than housing them locally has come out strongly against allowing the model to be the rule, rather than the exception.
The report upset industry bodies like the Minerals Council of Australia and the Queensland Resources Council from page one with the attention-grabbing title of Cancer of the Bush or Salvation of our Cities.
But his strong stance has drawn praise from those in Moranbah and Mackay who have fought to get the issue on the national agenda for years.
One of the most recognisable campaigners, former chairwoman of the Moranbah Action Group and now Isaac region councillor Kelly Vea Vea, said the committee members were to be congratulated on their strong report but stressed the key was what happened from here.
"Our communities can't afford to see this report gathering dust on the Australian Parliament House bookshelf; the time for action is now and that means federal, state and local action," Cr Vea Vea said.
Isaac Mayor Anne Baker said a case for "strong action" had been made.
"Our community pushed for the establishment of this inquiry, including personally lobbying the Prime Minister Julia Gillard ... when she visited Moranbah in 2011," Cr Baker said.
The Isaac Mayor also said the report should be regarded as the start of a process to address population imbalances and funding challenges.
"I would caution the mining industry and their representative groups not to cry wolf, rush out into the media to defend the industry, or attack the report as a threat to the industry," Cr Baker said.
REDC chief executive officer Narelle Pearse was pleased to see that many of the economic development body's concerns had been acknowledged in the report, including accurate recording of population figures affecting the region and better assessment of the economic impact on services and infrastructure.
"If FIFO workers are not contributing to local government funding, and yet they are using local services, then a change in funding allocations needs to be made," Ms Pearse said.
BMA, who pushed the FIFO debate into overdrive when it proposed to have a 100% FIFO workforce for its Caval Ridge mine, chose not to comment yesterday. A spokesperson said the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) would speak on behalf of all mining companies.
QRC chief executive Michael Roche said he found the report "very disappointing" because it did not acknowledge a survey of minerals and energy company workers, which showed that workers wanted options.
He said QRC would strongly oppose some of the inquiry's recommendations.
- The resource industry contributes $121.5 billion to the economy
- It employs 269,300 (May 2012)
- There were about 25,035 FIFO workers on-shift in the Bowen Basin in late June 2012
- An employee in the industry averages $2269pw, more than double the average
- In Moranbah 35% of all patients over one month lived elsewhere
- Non-resident patients had risen from 18% in 2007 to 28% in 2011
- Though there were opposing views on 12-hour shifts and seven-day rosters, it was found they have a negative effect on residential communities
- Though small businesses can't always benefit, one Mackay butcher has been supplying a mine camp for more than 10 years