The four person FIFO panel has handed down its findings to the Queensland government.
The four person FIFO panel has handed down its findings to the Queensland government. Contributed

FIFO Panel report backs local workforces in mining

THE Queensland Government will consider the report of the expert panel on FIFO as its own parliamentary inquiry wraps up this week.

That inquiry into FIFO and other long distance commuting work practices in regional Queensland, which held a hearing in Dalby, is due to be tabled in parliament on October 9.

The expert panel which consisted of two businessmen in the resource industry and two Bowen Basin mayors handed in its findings last week saying there had been unprecedented resource activity in Queensland in the past 15 years leading to heightened economic activity and population growth and reversing the 1990s trend of declining population.

The report found FIFO was on the increase due to workforce recruitment policies, location of mines, employee lifestyle choices, better roads, cheaper airfares, the provision of free or subsidised airfares and buses, roster arrangements, workplace health and safety, the use of contractors, and an increasing casualisation of operational workforces.

However the increase in non-resident operational workforces is having a negative impact on employment and on the economic sustainability of their communities, the panel found.

"The overwhelming majority of resource community economic stakeholders expressed opposition to resource companies specifying predominantly non-resident operational workforces for activities located in safe travelling distance of their communities," the report said.

While the panel admitted the government had limited legal and legislative options to change existing approvals, it recommended policy changes to stop 100% FIFO workforces in future projects.

The report also recommended local accommodation and procurement for operational activities.

The report comes just weeks after Sekitan Resources said it would be looking for a local workforce when it re-opens Wilkie Creek coalmine.

"A local workforce is more cost effective," CEO Trevor Bourne told a Chinchilla forum recently.

Sekitan hopes to start removing first coal from the ground in early 2016, ramping up later in the year.

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