NW speaks out on FIFO

Fr Mick Lowcock made a strong submission about the social impacts of FIFO at the hearing on Friday.

Fr Mick Lowcock made a strong submission about the social impacts of FIFO at the hearing on Friday.

It was late coming but the North West took its chance to speak out on FIFO on Friday with gusto with several strong presentations impressing the committee deliberating the new bill.

The Strong and Sustainable Resource Communities Bill 2016 would require large resource projects to consider locals for jobs, and ensure local businesses could win contracts and be part of the project's supply chain.

The bill is now in its public hearings phase and the Mount Isa meeting at the RedEarth on Friday was hastily arranged after a controversial claim there was no responses from this region.

Local MP Robbie Katter joined committee chair Jim Pearce (Labor, Mirani) and committee member Ann Leahy (LNP, Warrego) to hear 12 representations from the North West on Friday, including Mount Isa and Cloncurry councils.

Mount Isa Mayor Joyce McCulloch told the hearing there was a major loophole in the proposal to ban a 100% FIFO workforce. A mine of several thousand people would only to place one worker locally with the rest FIFO to meet the law. Cr McCulloch said the wording to be stated in the positive with an “aspirational target” of 50% local workforce.

Cloncurry Deputy Mayor Dane Swalling said FIFO was unhealthy for workers and imposed social costs on towns. Cr Swalling said that for a town of its size Cloncurry should expect 300 hospital admissions a year but gets three times that number.

He also said Cloncurry was making progress with MMG to get local workforce targets in place for Dugald River but nothing was in writing yet and there was no government support.

Robbie Katter asks a question watched by the secretariat's Mary Westacott, committee chair Jim Pearce MP and Ann Leahy MP

Robbie Katter asks a question watched by the secretariat's Mary Westacott, committee chair Jim Pearce MP and Ann Leahy MP

One of the strongest presentations was the final speaker after three and a half hours of testimony.

Fr Mick Lowcock says the local Catholic Church had never been consulted on social impact assessments despite spending $25m in the region in eight years.

He said government decisions added to the FIFO issue, citing the removal of the police communications role to Townsville,

He said services to remote communities were run down – services big mining companies use. Other speakers were Glen Graham (MITEZ), Prof Sabina Knight (MICRRA), Bob Katter MP, Peter Turnbull and Glen Ashmore (local accommodation providers), Brett and Kristy Moore (Hard Rok Engineering), Craig Scriven (boilermaker), Virginia Mayo (Kalkadoon community) and Frank King (retired miner).

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