THE campaign to stop the proposed $101million- 1500 bed temporary workers camp in Singleton gained momentum this week with state and federal politicians and union representatives voicing their opposition to the development.
A community leaders meeting was held in town attended by Federal members for New England, Tony Windsor and Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon and Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union northern district secretary Graham Kelly along with representatives from councils throughout the region.
The meeting resolved to call on the Singleton Council and the NSW Government to reject the MAC Group’s application to build a temporary worker camp in Singleton.
“Singleton is not a remote area. It is a thriving town in a thriving region and should be supported by government and the mining industry to remain so,” said the meeting’s statement.
“Rather than flying in skilled workers and placing them in camps, our communities need adequate family housing and training opportunities to make sure locals can fulfil skills needs.”
Mr Fitzgibbon said all those who attended the meeting, no matter their background or political views, agreed that the proposed camp was not a good thing for the Hunter.
“This community has to put up with the impacts from mining such as air and water quality, congested roads, higher service prices and housing shortages,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
“So therefore they should enjoy the good things mining can bring including good wages and plenty of training opportunities.”
Mr Fitzgibbon said he would be working until the end of the current parliament in September to ensure the recommendations of the Windsor committee were implemented.
Mr Windsor chaired a House of Representatives report investigating fly-in, fly-out and drive-in, drive-out workforce practices in regional Australia.
Among the recommendations were the establishment of a method to accurately measure the extent of FIFO and DIDO workforces in the resource sector, community funding based on both resident and service populations, research to determine the impact of non-resident workers in regional resource towns on the provision of services and infrastructure.
State Member for Upper Hunter George Souris also threw his support behind the opposition to the camp saying he had made his own submission to Singleton Council in opposition to the proposal and which will also be a submission to the Joint Regional Panning Panel that will decide the development application.
“My specific concerns are about inadequate current infrastructure and resources for policing, hospital and medical services, ambulance, fire brigade, public transport and roads and other community services,” he said.
“The increase in commitment of these state government resources will be a burden on the state that will not be accounted for.
“Pressure will come for these services generated specifically from such a proposal.”
In response to the meetings in Singleton this week the MAC Group’s managing director Peter McCann said the accommodation proposal in Singleton is aimed at meeting future peak demand for temporary accommodation and will only be built if proposed new mine developments and mine expansions proceed.
“Currently, we are only proceeding with the planning approvals process and community consultations, in order to help get planning right for the future,” he said.
“The village would also help address the fatigue and road safety issues associated with workers driving to work sites.
“However, accommodation demand is now low, given the downturn in the resources industry, and in these circumstances the village will not proceed.”
The company already has approval for an accommodation village in Muswellbrook, but as demand is currently low, the village has not proceeded.
“Our Singleton village would also not proceed unless there is a change in demand for accommodation,” Mr McCann said.
“We will be reviewing issues raised in submissions received on the village proposal as part of our considerations going forward.”
According to Better Future for Singleton Shire Association, 787 submissions have been received by Singleton Council regarding the MAC Group proposal.
Submissions close on May 17.
WARNING ON FIFO: Federal members for New England Tony Windsor and Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon were among community leaders to attend a meeting in Singleton on Wednesday to discuss the proposed mine camp development for Singleton.
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