Two central Queensland councils are calling for action from the federal and state government on the FIFO report recommendations to address concerns caused by fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workforces.
In February 2013, the House Standing Committee on Regional Australia made 21 recommendations to the Federal Government in its ‘Cancer of the bush or salvation for our cities: fly in, fly out and drive in, drive out workforce practices in regional Australia’ report.
Now, Central Highlands and Isaac Regional Councils will move a motion at the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) annual conference in Mackay calling for action. Isaac Mayor Anne Baker said there was an strong need for the state and federal government to address and provide protection for established resource communities and regional centres.
“Our communities have just experienced the biggest workforce reduction in recent times while restrictive work practices continue on our doorstep,” Mayor Baker said.
“Regional, rural and remote communities can only be sustainable if they have strong economies based on a stable workforce.”
“Policy review and development, with local government as a stakeholder in this process, would enable sustainable mining, strong communities and give workers genuine choice to live in the communities where they work.”
The federal report committee chair, Independent MP Tony Windsor, wrote in the report’s foreword that governments of all levels needed to recognise and act on issues impacting regional communities hosting large FIFO workforces.
Mr Windsor said: “…the work practice is eroding the liveability of some regional communities to such an extent that it is increasingly removing the choice to ‘live in’ rather than simply ‘cash in’.”
He also said a policy mix was needed to ensure FIFO did not lead to “a hollowing out of established regional towns, particularly those inland.”
Central Highlands Mayor Peter Maguire said this situation and its challenges have not changed since the report’s release.
“In fact, they have been exacerbated by new mining projects announcing the use of transient workforces in the development of the Galilee Basin,” Mayor Maguire said.
“The long term sustainability of communities ‘hosting’ FIFO and DIDO workforces is seriously under threat.”
“We are not saying no to all FIFO and DIDO, but firmly believe that workers and families should have a choice about where they live, and that people who live locally can be employed locally.
“We have companies coming to us saying that they want to use local employees and we want to make sure that this is supported by the policies and actions of all levels of government.”
The two Councils are seeking a commitment to implement the recommendations of the House Standing Committee on Regional Australia’s report on the use of FIFO workforce practices in regional Australia.
The motion is one of four motions being moved by Isaac Regional Council including removing state agency eligibility from the Royalties for the Regions program, empowering local governments with planning control and state support to reverse freeze on indexation of Financial Assistance Grants.
Central Highlands Regional Council is also calling for a review of the National Competition Policy and asking LGAQ to call on the State Government and the Queensland Audit Office to provide standardised methodologies for the application of depreciation rates.