No progress made on community FIFO impact: AMCA chair

The Australian Mining Cities Alliance (AMCA) is urging all governments to properly acknowledge and manage the impacts of a fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workforce on mining communities.

In October 2011, then State Member for Kalgoorlie John Bowler coined the term “Cancer of the Bush,” referring to the negative impacts of FIFO work practices of large mining companies in many mining cities around Australia.

Now, 10 years later as the AMCA chair and City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder Mayor, Bowler reflected on the lack of progress by the Commonwealth and state governments to make change.

“This issue has been mulled over by various governments for years and while there are plenty of reports and recommendations to show for it, not enough real progress has been made,” he said.

“AMCA will adopt its new strategic plan and policy platforms at its meeting to be held next month and one of the outstanding issues is the need for all governments to properly acknowledge and manage the impacts of FIFO on mining communities.”

In 2013, the Standing Committee on Regional Australia Inquiry report titled Cancer of the bush or salvation for our cities? Fly-in, fly-out and drive-in, drive-out workforce practices in Regional Australia’ contained 21 recommendations to address a range of impacts including the services planned for in FIFO communities.

Bowler said one important recommendation was that the Commonwealth Government, in consultation with state and territory governments, review allocation of funding for communities that receive FIFO/drive-in, drive-out workforces so that funding is based on both resident and service populations.

“But here we are at the end of 2021 and that crucial recommendation has simply not been heeded adequately.” Bowler said.

“AMCA will dig deep into this issue and will advocate for action on the dormant recommendations by all governments.

“For example, we can see merit in the Commonwealth and other state governments developing legislation similar to the Queensland Government’s Strong and Sustainable Resource Communities Act (SSRC Act) which it adopted in 2017.

“This act outlaws 100 per cent FIFO operations and places the onus on resources sector project proponents to meaningfully plan for the social impacts of their mines, with the clear objective of improving the lot of people in affected communities.”

Earlier this month, Queensland Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Steven Miles said a review found the SSRC Act is on track to create more local jobs and economic growth for regional communities.

In September, a consortium of local government authorities from around Australia called for regional housing support in response to the issues of housing affordability and living costs in Australia’s mining communities.

The More Than Mining campaign calls on the Australian Government to create a regional tax incentive to drive regional relocation, slow population churn and smooth out the volatility of house prices.

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