TO many local mine workers it would appear strange if not downright ridiculous if they were unable to apply for work in a new mine proposed to be built six kilometres from Singleton.
But according to visiting Moranbah residents and community leaders Kelly Vea Vea and Peter Finlay that is what has just happened in their community located in central Queensland in the coal rich Bowen Basin.
Ms Vea Vea said the company behind the new mine will only employ workers on a fly-in fly-out (FIFO) contract.
“They will not employ anyone who lives in Moranbah and that should not be allowed to happen, but that is how the industry operates in our district,” she said.
“The decision by the mine’s owners to use 100 per cent FIFO workers is designed to benefit them, not our community or the employees,” said Mr Finlay, who is president of the Moranbah Traders Association.
“Itinerant workers don’t spend their income in our town but they use our services – services provided by a diminishing number of ratepayers,” he said.
MS Vea Vea and Mr Finlay were in Singleton at the behest of the Better Future for Singleton Shire Association that is opposed to a development application for a mine camp in Singleton and they were guest speakers at a community meeting held on Wednesday night that was attended by 150 people.
The pair provided figures on the impact of the FIFO workers in their district with the Isaac Shire (including towns like Moranbah and Clermont) having approximately 80,000 FIFO workers employed in the mines.
“The resident population of the shire is 22,000 and our government services are based on those numbers,” said Ms Vea Vea, an Isaac Shire councillor.
“In Moranbah itself the resident population is 9,500 but within 50 kilometres of town there is temporary accommodation for 17,450 workers,” she said.
“This is not a responsible way to develop, we need genuine investment in affordable housing and families should be able to choose where they live and work.
“The argument that FIFO is necessary because of the skills shortage simply does not add up, for example the companies under this arrangement never invest in trade skilling in particular apprenticeships.”
Both the visitors warned Singleton not to follow in Moranbah’s footsteps with Mr Finlay saying don’t let in the first mine camp because it will be the first of many – they will breed.
ISSUING A WARNING: Moranbah residents Peter Finlay and Kelly Vea Vea were in Singleton to warn the local community of the problems associated with mine camp developments.
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