Flinders Shire mayor Jane McNamara has called Monday a “dark day” in Hughenden’s history after Aurizon axed two thirds of their workforce in the town.
The job losses were among 76 roles lost in the North West with Hughenden worst affected in ratio of jobs lost to population.
Member for Mount Isa Robbie Katter called it unjust and devastating news for a town of this size.
"Twenty-nine jobs in a town of 1150 people is the equivalent to the loss of around 50,000 jobs in Brisbane.
Hughenden Aurizon staff were informed by text message that they would all be required at a meeting on Monday were they were told 25 of the 37 positions for train drivers would no longer be offered after Aurizon lost its contract to haul Glencore produce from Mount Isa. The employees will be offered the choices of competing for the few remaining jobs, relocation or taking a redundancy package by Aurizon.
Four other Aurizon staff will also not be required in Hughenden due to the lack of services by the company along the rail corridor.
Cr McNamara said this would flow on to the businesses and services of Hughenden as these employees and their families leave town.
She spent the afternoon in consultation with many state government ministerial offices and Mr Katter.
“We will work with all agencies, especially State Development to assist with employment packages for our region,” she said.
“State Development stepped in to assist Townsville when Queensland Nickel closed its operations.
“We have asked for consideration to to assist with the development of projects in the Flinders Shire.”
Meanwhile David Glasson, president of economic development group MITEZ said he is disappointment Glencore are moving their freight to the road network.
“If the issue is that if rail is no longer competitive with road transport then it is time for to examine the mix of charges including the below-rail access charges factored into these rail contracts,” Mr Glasson said.
“What’s the good of pressing the Queensland Government into further upgrades to the line if customers are putting more and more product on the road.”