QLD sets up skills taskforce

The Queensland Government has created a new Skills and Training Taskforce to address labour shortages across the state.

It comes just days after the Federal Government announced the launch of an online jobs board to provide Australians a chance to score mining jobs.

In a statement Workplace Minister Bill Shorten said miners looking for overseas workers must first advertise the roles on the new jobs board.

"Companies and contractors recruiting overseas workers through EMAs will be required to use the Jobs Board to demonstrate that suitably qualified Australians are given the first opportunity to apply for available jobs," he said.

"The Government will take into account the use of the Jobs Board when assessing EMA applications, including the number and skills of Australian job seekers registered with the board."

Gina Rinehart's Roy Hill project, which has secured approval for 1,700 temporary foreign workers, will also use the website.

Now Queensland has created a taskforce to deal with the skills shortage not only in mining, but right across the state, inviting Queensland Resources Council chief Michael Roche to chair the endeavour.

"Let me say at the outset that this will not be an exercise focusing exclusively on the resources sector but the vocational education and training system’s skilling role for individuals and industry as a whole," Roche explained.

It comes as the QLD Government also releases the report of a Land Access Review Panel, which looked into the proposed strategic land use legislation and the conflicts faced between mining and agriculture.

The QRC originally called for an investigation into the proposed land use legislation late last year.

Responding to the introduction of the legislation, QRC head Michael Roche stated that the inclusion of soil criteria in the Bill, instead of in subsequent regulations, means the focus would move to the Parliament's Environment, Agriculture Resources and Energy Committee.

"It is a surprise to discover soil criteria laid out as black letter law in the legislation introduced last night, effectively sidelining the Minister's own committee of four eminent soil scientists appointed to advise on implementation of the legislation," Roche said at the time.

"This legislation needs to be underpinned by the best available science and while the jury is still out on some of the proposed soil criteria used to identify the best cropping land in Queensland, no-one can come away from this process completely satisfied.

"The last thing anyone wants to see is a lawyer’s picnic created around soil criteria open to challenge through the courts."

Roche went on to say that it could bring about the introduction of another exclusion zone for mining operations, which will mean that a number of projects will be blocked.

"However, we do acknowledge that the government has recognised the prior investment of tens of millions of dollars in advanced projects and is also providing avenues for these projects to work within the legislative framework," he added.

Despite the widening of governmental protections and exclusions for mining operations, some QLD towns have chosen to opt out.

The QRC received the investigation report yesterday, with Roche stating that it was pleased to note the panel’s broadly positive response to key areas of resources sector concern including a recommendation to move away from the previous government’s ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to coal, coal seam gas and minerals compensation agreements.
"Reducing as much as possible the cost and time taken to secure exploration access and restoring the value of direct working relationships between landholders and resource companies are in everyone’s interests," he said.

The resources council is currently working towards drafting a response to the investigation.

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