The Palaszczuk Government has announced its plans to legislate later this year to end 100 per cent fly in-fly out (FIFO) mine employment schemes where nearby regional towns have a capable workforce.
“This Government believes workers should have choices,” State Development and Natural Resources and Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said.
“If people want to live in regional communities they should have the opportunity to apply for jobs at nearby resource projects.”
As well as blocking 100 per cent FIFO operations in new mines where nearby regional towns have a capable workforce, the legislation would force existing 100 per cent FIFO operations to consider locals for employment.
The move follows the report of the Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Committee and an independent FIFO review panel.
The committee made 27 recommendations towards improving the outcomes from large resource projects for workers and regional communities.
Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker said news of planned legislative reform was a long-awaited, positive step forward for Queensland workers and their families.
“As a region that is home to two 100 per cent FIFO mines, this is a fantastic win for our resource communities, regional centres and our next generations,” she said.
“It’s vital that people across regional Queensland have the opportunity to apply for local mining jobs, and this legislation will mean workers can no longer be locked out of local employment.
“Our communities will benefit from this progress in so many areas—employment, training, local business, accommodation and importantly, the health and wellbeing of our people.
“We look forward to assessing the detail of the Queensland Government’s comprehensive policy and legislative framework later in the year.
But Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche described the announcement as deeply concerning to the industry.
“At a time when the resources sector is facing very difficult market conditions, more red tape will heap extra costs upon resource companies, which are doing everything possible to compete globally and employ thousands of Queenslanders,” he said.
“QRC accepts that all parties in the Queensland parliament do not support future 100 per cent (FIFO) mining operations where there are nearby towns that have a capable workforce, however we do not support any retrospective regulatory action against existing mines.
“The current arrangements at two Bowen Basin mines in relation to FIFO were put in place by the previous Labor government to address what was then an extremely tight labour market and should not be tampered with for political purposes.
“We understand circumstances have changed since this time, but retrospective action is never welcome. The rules of the game should not be changed after they have been agreed to.”
Mr Roche said the QRC’s latest workforce survey revealed that better than four out of five employees would not change where they lived or their accommodation arrangements even if they were given the opportunity.
“This really calls into question the need for any legislative amendment. The same survey found that four out of five employees also were happy with the standard of employer provided accommodation,” he said.
The survey also showed that 85 percent of resource industry workers from around Queensland regarded their physical and mental health and quality of life as either excellent, very good or good.