Country pub counts cost of mining downturn

A DARLING Downs hotel has lost half of its accommodation revenue since January due to a drop off in FIFO workers associated with Surat Basin projects, says manager Col Hunt.

"We had stages last year when we were running at 100% capacity up until July, August, and September and going back to two years prior," he said.

"Now our accommodation is probably around 40% to 50% full."

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A Queensland Government report has found the Western Downs could lose up to 73% of its FIFO and DIDO workforce by 2021, due to a move from coal-seam gas construction to production.

The Surat Basin non-resident population projections, 2015 to 2021 report said the region's non-resident workforce could fall to 2450 in mid-2021, compared with 9100 in 2014.

But Mr Hunt said the worst of the mining decline had already hit his business.

"People have left over the last three to four months and we're not letting anyone go, but we're not replacing anyone," he said.

Mr Hunt said the remainder of his business was performing well.

Home Timber and Hardware owner David Smiles said he had already been forced to lay off one employee.

"I'm not prepared to say how much I've lost, but there's been a significant downturn in my turnover to the point that, in the near future, I'll have to reassess my staffing levels," he said.

But Dalby Chamber of Commerce and Industry membership services manager Trudi Bartlett said businesses who were successful before the mining boom would continue to grow.

"Those who rode the wave of mining are the ones who will suffer, if that's all they've relied on," she said.

Western Downs Regional Council Mayor Ray Brown said the council had always known the CSG industry's production stage would require about one-third of its original workforce.

Cr Brown will ask a Queensland Government Parliamentary inquiry into FIFO workers to mandate that mining companies house workers in towns, not camps.

"The people who are working and enjoying our amenities don't live here and aren't on our electoral roll, but their impacts are in our region," he said.

The report outlined an alternative population projection, which took into account projects with environmental impact statements that had not been subject to a final decision.

This would see the Western Downs' FIFO and DIDO population decline by 64% to 3250 workers in 2021.


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