Calls for action on year-old FIFO report

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry is calling for more to be done about a FIFO report that was first tabled in parliament over a year ago.

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry is calling for more to be done about a FIFO report that was first tabled in parliament over a year ago.

She said the report, 'Cancer of the bush or salvation of our cities?', is important in understanding how FIFO activities affect small towns and wants its recommendations implemented.

Landry says companies are ditching locals in favour of FIFO workers from large Queensland cities, adding to unemployment and business closures in regional mining towns, ABC reported.

"I've been speaking to some people who supply jobs to the different workforces, they've actually been replaced by other companies in Brisbane, so they're employing people from Brisbane and sending them up here, whereas these guys have all these job seekers on their books up here and they're not getting a look-in," Landry said.

"It's got to be a bit more balanced.”

"It appears to me that cities like Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast and Cairns are benefiting more from the boom, the coal industry, than what the people in central Queensland are.

"This report needs to be looked at, there will good suggestions and bad suggestions in there. It really has to be addressed this fly-in, fly-out as far as I'm concerned."

The findings of the 209-page report were fist tabled in Parliament in February last year, making 21 recommendation to government including better resourcing communities under pressure from large FIFO workforces, removing tax benefits for companies using transient workforces, a study into the impact on communities and the development of a housing strategy.

Independent MP Tony Windsor wrote in the report's foreword that governments of all levels needed to recognise and act on the issues impacting regional communities who were hosting large FIFO workforces.

“….the work practice is eroding the liveability of some regional communities to such an extent that it is increasingly removing the choice to ‘live-in’ rather than simply ‘cash-in,” Windsor wrote.

Windsor said a policy mix was needed to ensure FIFO did not lead to "a hollowing out of established regional towns, particularly those inland".

The FIFO debate is back in the spotlight of late after BMA’s announced plans to source a transient workforce for several new mines and expansion projects in Queensland.

Landry has said there was a lot of anger amongst the community about the issue, with many people forced to move out of their towns in order to secure work.

However the company defended its positions, saying access to a diverse workforce was critical.

“In order to ensure our operations remain competitive we must be able to attract the very best people and we need to be able to provide a choice of employment which includes both residential and commute arrangements,” the company said.

Member for Dawson George Christensen has also called for the report to be further looked into and has said allowing companies to recruit only from certain areas amounted to "geographic discrimination".

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