The comments were made by Roche late last week in an address to the Turnaround Management Association in Brisbane.
Roche also said he was concerned that the demonisation of non-resident workers will come back to haunt resource communities in the future.
“The economic challenge for central Queensland communities and the state generally is not 900 FIFO positions at the Daunia and Caval Ridge mines but the loss of 9,000 coal jobs statewide,” Roche told those gathered.
“All coal mines in the Bowen Basin have a mix of local and commuting workers and at Daunia and Caval Ridge there are around 200 contract and support roles filled by residents of Moranbah and Mackay.”
“In addition, the Daunia and Caval Ridge Mines also offer opportunities for local businesses through the BMA Local Buying Program with over $2 million in goods and services purchased from over 40 central Queensland businesses in the past 12 months.”
“A 100 percent FIFO operation is a meaningless concept in the Bowen Basin as established communities are within driving distance.”
“These are not like the remote mines in the state’s North West and Far North where everyone from kitchen staff to mechanics must be flown in.”
Commenting on the Labor Party’s ‘Strong and Sustainable Resource Communities’ policy released last week, Mr Roche said the QRC was staggered to learn that if elected to government, Labor would reverse existing FIFO workforce approvals.
“This threat is wrong on a number of counts,” he said.
“First, the workforce approvals for Daunia and Caval Ridge were granted during the term of the previous Labor state government. Second, it is a very bad signal to investors that legitimately granted project approval conditions are at risk of being reversed by a subsequent government. And third, the FIFO workers were recruited from areas of higher than average unemployment (Cairns, Sunshine Coast and Logan) at the insistence of the previous Labor government. ”
“Labor should drop this part of their policy forthwith,” he said.
The QRC claims to have independent reseach, involving more than 2,000 resources sector employees, that confirms some prefer to live locally while others prefer to commute.
“It’s a matter of personal choice that the industry must continue to cater for if it is to attract and retain skilled employees,” Mr Roche said.
“Governments also have a responsibility to ensure that workers are not choosing the commuting option by default because of a real or perceived lack of social infrastructure in resource communities.”
“Australia’s workforce is increasingly mobile, and unlikely to accept living in what they see as a community with second class services.”