Isaac Mayor calls for an end to wholly FIFO workforces

Isaac Mayor Anne Baker says the use of 100 per cent FIFO workforces is one of the biggest threats facing Central Queensland communities.

The comments come after deputy premier Jeff Seeney said Isaac Regional Council was "scaremongering" over its opposition of BMA’s plans to use a 100 per cent FIFO workforce at its new Red Hill mine.

"It is reasonable to represent our residents and stand up when we facing the long-term failure of our regional communities, and it's bigger than that. No-one in Central Queensland is safe, particularly Mackay and Rockhampton," Baker said.

"If the Queensland Government condones 100% forced FIFO work practices at Red Hill, they are effectively allowing BMA to cut jobs in the region and lay the foundation for regional decline.”

As well as the new mine, BMA plans to expand underground coal mines Broadmeadow and Goonyella Riverside.

The projects will generate 2000 jobs in construction and an additional 1500 in operation and the miner says a flexible 100 per cent FIFO workforce is needed, with a 3000-bed workers camp part of the proposal.

The council said people will forced to move to Brisbane to secure work, and say locals, many of whom have experienced job losses in recent months, should be given priority.

The latest debate has also drawn the ire of the unions who have consistently criticised BMA’s use of 100 per cent FIFO workforces.

The CFMEU said it does not oppose FIFO but states where there is a community that can service a coal mine, locals should be given a choice.

CFMEU district president Stephen Smyth said there were many skilled locals in the Bowen Basin who should have the option of working at the projects without having to relocate.

“With any mining project, employees should be given a choice and not have FIFO thrust upon them as compulsory,” Smyth told Australian Mining.

Smyth said there was more than enough accommodation for workers in the area.

“One would question why BMA would want 3000 more rooms when construction at Daunia and Caval Ridge mines are winding down,” he said.

Smyth says this means thousands of rooms are available in Moranbah and Dysart alone.

He said 100 per cent FIFO operations were “breaking the fabric of mining towns”, with many communities struggling to stay afloat.

Federal Member for Capricornia , Michelle Landry, said FIFO camps mean little money is being spent in local communities.

Landry said businesses in mining towns are struggling to survive.

"Some of them are just holding in there, hoping things will improve,” she said.

"But what's happening is these people are being flown into these camps – work and sleep and eat there – and then on the plane and go back out again and the local communities [are] missing out on it."

Baker said the future in Isaac was "scary" and the Red Hill EIS was the last opportunity to voice the community's concerns, Daily Mercury reported.

"In his election promises, Premier Campbell Newman said if the LNP was elected it would categorically rule out a 100% FIFO workforce for any mine. All I am asking for is a common sense approach in the assessing process," she said.

"While council is not naive enough to expect the total employment numbers to be sourced locally, if 100% forced FIFO becomes the norm regional Queensland will be threatened.

"Our vital and well established mining regions must be strong, healthy communities. Our communities need population and economic growth, small businesses need confidence and we need community sustainability."

BMA’s plans are currently before Queensland’s Co-ordinator General and Seeney said a final decision on the project has not been made.

"Our part of it is to ensure that there is a range of options available and the Co-ordinator General, as part of the assessment process, will look at the options available and decide what's acceptable,” Seeney said.

"We think this mine should be given every opportunity to go ahead."

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