The inquiry into fly-in, fly-out and other long distance commuting work practices in regional Queensland has produced a series of recommendations aimed at ensuring ‘genuine choice’ for workers.
The report was tabled in parliament in October along with 235 written submissions and more than 100 witness accounts.
“I welcome the report but I don’t believe that the Palaszczuk government has the will or the spine to actually take the next step,” CFMEU Queensland district president Stephen Smyth said.
“The report says the Government will ‘consider’ but there’s no real commitment there.
“What happens when they say it’s just too hard? That’s the reality of it.
“People like Jim (inquiry chair Jim Pearce) will fight tooth and nail but it takes the Government as a whole doing something more concrete with the report than just reading it and saying ‘that’s a good report’.”
Isaac Regional Council mayor Anne Baker shared the concerns.
“The increased non-resident operational workforces from the two existing 100 per cent FIFO mines is having a negative impact on employment and on the economic sustainability of the Isaac region,” Cr Baker said.
“Outcomes for Isaac communities, workers and mining families will only come with the State Government’s appetite to enact change at a practical level.
“Our regions simply can’t afford for another report to stagnate on shelves.
“We have come a long way, but there is so much more work to do.”
One of the recommendations within the report is a change to the Anti-Discrimination Act to include location as an illegal condition of employment.
This was to avoid any more 100 per cent FIFO arrangements like BMA’s Daunia and Caval Ridge mines in the Bowen Basin, inquiry chair Jim Pearce said.
“The community made it very clear to the committee that they were just not happy with fly-in, fly-out and about not having the choice of where they could live,” he said.
“At the moment if workers want a job at Daunia or Caval Ridge, on the bottom of the application form there is a direction that they must live in south-east Queensland or Cairns.
“Now that is discriminatory against people that live in other areas that might like a job at that mine.”
The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) released a statement criticising the report.
The recommendation to amend the Anti-Discrimination Act was a case of ‘using a sledgehammer to crack a nut’, QRC chief executive Michael Roche said.
“The reality is that the concept of a 100 per cent FIFO mine in the Bowen Basin is a furphy,” he said.
“There are only two mines in all of the Bowen Basin that have approval for a 100 per cent FIFO workforce and even at those two mines there are hundreds of local contractors and small businesses supporting those operations.”
Mr Pierce was quick to respond to the comments.
“If it’s a furphy, and they don’t want it then let’s get rid of it,” he said
A government response to the inquiry is expected early this year.