War on enforced FIFO begins as opponents call for LNP split
IT IS time for Premier Campbell Newman to show some leadership, according to the state's Opposition, which is demanding he "overrule" deputy Jeff Seeney and stop mining companies from forcing workers on to fly-in, fly-out work arrangements.
Member for Mackay Tim Mulherin is rallying against policies that allowed mining companies to pull an entire workforce from outside the local area.
The policies allowed BHP Billiton Mitsubishi alliance to draw 1000 workers for its Caval Ridge and Daunia mines from Cairns and south-east Queensland.
Central Queensland workers living in the same town as the mines were blacklisted from applying.
BMA intends to use a 100% FIFO workforce for Moranbah's Red Hill mine, a new major project currently being considered by the Queensland Government.
BMA and the government insist such arrangements help distribute the wealth of the resources sector beyond the traditional Central Queensland boom towns.
Labor approved the deal in 2011 while still in government as a skills crisis meant filling mining vacancies was a challenge for most mining companies.
Times have changed since then.
The tumbling of coal prices has driven the industry to slash up to 10,000 jobs in the past two years.
The LNP opposed forced FIFO deals while in opposition but shifted its policy once it took power in 2012.
Mr Seeney said these decisions were left to the Coordinator-General Barry Broe.
THIS NEWSPAPER is running a campaign against 100% FIFO, in an effort to ensure jobs in regional Queensland are not continually siphoned off to Brisbane and other major centres.
The LNP's George Christensen and Michelle Landry - who each represent chunks of Central Queensland in Canberra - have also been outspoken about the damage the Queensland Government is doing to the region.
Mr Mulherin said it was time for the government to act.
"There is growing pressure on the Newman government to change tack, but Mr Seeney isn't listening even to those voices of reason from his own side of politics," Mr Mulherin said.
"It is not often I am in agreement with LNP Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry, but when she says, as I already have, that it's time for the Premier to stand up for businesses, schools and families in Central Queensland's mining towns, she is absolutely right," said Mr Mulherin.
"The Premier should rule-out 100% FIFO at any future projects in the Bowen Basin and honour the promise his party made before the last election."
A spokesman for the Premier said the FIFO arrangement was about "respecting the rights of Queenslanders to choose where they live and work".
He said there were "enormous benefits enjoyed by towns and cities in both inland and coastal Queensland that serve as 'hubs' and homes from where resource workers commute."