Councils call for action on FIFO report recommendations

Article image - Councils call for action on FIFO report recommendations Front row: Isaac Mayor Cr Anne Baker, Central Highlands Mayor Cr Peter Maguire, Cr Gail Godwin-Smith, CHRC CEO Scott Mason Middle row: CHRC Deputy Mayor Cr Gail Nixon, Cr Gina Lacey, Cr Gai Sypher, Cr Geoff Bethel Back row: Cr Charlie Brimblecombe, Cr Nick Wheeler, Cr Paul Bell, Cr Barbara Stranks, Cr Jane Pickels, Isaac Deputy Mayor Cr Dale Appleton

Central Highlands and Isaac Regional Councils will move a motion at the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) annual conference in Mackay this week calling for action on the FIFO (fly-in, fly-out) report recommendations.

In February last year, 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.

Isaac Mayor Anne Baker said there was an urgent 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.

“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.

He 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’.”

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.

“The long term sustainability of communities ‘hosting’ FIFO and DIDO (Drive In, Drive Out) 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.”