A mining communities advocate has lashed out at the Queensland government, claiming a lack of support will see regional mining centres turn into “ghost towns” as workers leave to secure FIFO jobs.
Former state politician and Central Queensland Coal Communities advocate Jim Pearce claims mine workers are leaving regional towns at an alarming rate so they can be considered for work at the 100 per cent FIFO workforce at BMA’s Caval Ridge mine, Daily Mercury reported.
Pearce said the state and federal governments should "hang their heads in shame" for allowing BMA to opt for a wholly FIFO workforce at the mine and says people are leaving their homes and moving to different postcodes in the hope of securing work.
"This is the history of the industry in reverse," he said.
"People used to move from the coast to the coal towns to have a job and a nice home and a great town to live in and now those vibrant populations will become ghost towns. Who would want to live in a community where they have a high risk of not being able to retain a job just because of the policies of the industry?"
BHP’s decision to use a 100 per cent FIFO workforce instead of hiring from inside the local Central Queensland community, enraged locals, the unions as well as the wider mining community at large early last year.
It was hoped that BHP would source the 1000 employees needed for the project from the surrounding areas of Moranbah, Dysart, Mackay and Rockhampton but instead workers will be flown in from Brisbane and Cairns.
President of the Moranbah Traders Association, Peter Finlay, has previously said 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.
Pearce agrees, describing BMA’s decision as "bad policy".
"There's a huge burden on infrastructure, roads and communities along the east coast and all this is adding to it," he said.
"I think it's about time the people of Queensland and people with some authority started to ask the questions why mining companies prefer to have FIFO ahead of a sustainable existing community. The reason is because they get tax concessions for constructing mining camps."
Pearce called on the state and federal governments to take a serious look at the situation.
"Taxpayers, mining companies and the government have put a lot of money into building these mining communities; that's why we need to use them."
An enquiry into the effects of FIFO workforces on regional towns was released last year, making 21 recommendations including better resourcing communities under pressure from large FIFO workforces, removing tax benefits for companies using transient workforces, a study into the impact on communities and the development of a housing strategy.