The Queensland Government has released a review of fly-in fly out mines in the state, which has presented eight recommendations to the mining industry.
The state government commissioned the FIFO Review Report earlier this year on the back of Labor’s pre-election promise to review existing 100 per cent FIFO arrangements, and has been running concurrently to a separate parliamentary inquiry headed by the Member for Mirani, Jim Pearce.
The review’s panel examined the economic impact of FIFO work practices in regional resource communities and also the communities where the FIFO workers live.
The Queensland Resources Council has slammed the review, claiming it reveals “little evidence of having considered views of resource industry workers and their families while foreshadowing extra regulatory layers on an already struggling sector”.
Queensland Resources Council Chief Executive Michael Roche said while some recommendations were pleasing, there was still cause for concern over some elements of the report.
“We welcome the recommendation against retrospective action to alter existing approvals and the existing workforce,” said Mr Roche.
“Despite the sector’s enormous contribution to the state’s coffers, it is currently in survival mode due to the commodities slump, and extra regulatory layers, in what is an already heavily-regulated environment, could adversely affect productivity and our sector’s competitiveness.
“Under existing arrangements a project’s environmental impact statement has to address all the matters identified in the report. However, the report’s talk of financial penalties is a sure recipe for driving investment interest away from our state.”
Mr Roche said the concept of 100 per cent FIFO mines in the Bowen Basin was always a furphy, with all mines requiring support from many local businesses in addition to the site workers. The report also showed little evidence of consultation with workers and their families.
“Just last month we released our workforce accommodation survey, which found that better than four out of five employees would not change where they live even if they were given the opportunity,” Mr Roche said.
“The important message from workers surveyed, is that they want to have the choice and they don’t want that choice taken away from them. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to where workers live.”
The review offered eight recommendations from the panel, including workforce, procurement and accommodation plans, which, if adopted, will “establish a robust and enforceable framework to ensure the sustainability of communities within the resource regions as new resource activity is undertaken”.
“Combined with the implementation of considered economic and social strategic plans by appropriate local councils, the recommended actions will assist resource communities and nearby regional communities achieve the desired economic and social outcomes from future operational resource activity within Queensland’s resource rich regions,” the report said.
The FIFO panel’s report will now be considered by Government within the context of the findings of the parliamentary inquiry into FIFO and other long distance commuting work practices in regional Queensland, which is due to be tabled in Parliament on October 9.
Collectively, the findings of the panel report and parliamentary inquiry will guide the development of the government’s broader policy framework for FIFO.