Updated February 21, 2013 09:15:26
A central Queensland business leader says it is “stupid” that miners have to live more than 1,000 kilometres from where they work.
About 1,000 workers from south-east Queensland and Cairns in the far north are being sought to staff two BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance mines on the Bowen Basin.
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney will today open an upgrade to the airport at Moranban, south-west of Mackay, to support the fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workforce.
Mr Seeney says the moves will boost the far northern economy to about $60 million a year.
However, the president of the Moranbah Traders Association, Peter Finlay, says local residents should have the opportunity to apply for jobs in their own community.
“It’s seven kilometres from the post office and if you want to work there you can’t have an address in Moranbah – how stupid is that?” he said.
“I’m sure somebody buys a hamburger now and then but the vast majority of wages are spent elsewhere.”
Isaac Mayor Anne Baker says the people of Moranbah are frustrated.
She says it will put more pressure on regional infrastructure.
“There are certainly critical impacts, for example the roads,” she said.
“It’s our goal to have strong and healthy communities and just not have expanding tarmacs for large mining companies.”
Councillor Baker says she supports a limited FIFO workforce.
Recruitment outside Moranbah is set to begin mid-year.
Meanwhile, a report into FIFO work practices was tabled in Federal Parliament last week.
The chairman of the Regional Australia Committee, federal independent MP Tony Windsor, says the resources boom is being wasted.
“Eighty 80 years ago they had to leave the country to find work in the cities – now we’ve got a phenomenon where this is work in the country,” he said.
“The city people are coming out to do the work, collect the wages and go home to where they want to be.
“If you look at Moranbah and a few other towns you’ll start to see some of the social issues and economic issues that FIFO delivers.”
He says he fears the practice could spread to other sectors.
“Why can’t the meat industry? Why can’t the medical industry?” he said.
“If that becomes the preferred option, that everyone can live in the city or on the coast and just go to the country for their wages, that will be detrimental to a lot of country communities, irrespective of whether they’re in the mining boom or not.”Topics: mining-rural, community-development, federal—state-issues, activism-and-lobbying, mining-industry, regional-development, moranbah-4744, mackay-4740, cairns-4870, rockhampton-4700 First posted February 21, 2013 09:11:33