New fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) laws came into operation in Queensland last week, representing the first time in Australia that social impact assessment, and in particular FIFO, has been regulated by an Act of Parliament.

The three key elements of the Strong and Sustainable Resource Communities Act 2017 (SSRC Act) relating to applicable large resource projects commenced on 30 March 2018:

  • 100% FIFO prohibition
  • Anti-discrimination provisions making it an offence to discriminate against locals in the recruitment of workers
  • Social impact assessment is now mandatory for environmental impact statements.

Owners of projects on the large resource projects list now have a six-month transition period following publication of their details on the list to achieve compliance with the 100% FIFO prohibition.

Large resource projects list now online

The Coordinator-General has now published the list of large resource projects that are subject to the provisions of the SSRC Act.

This list is based solely on mapping nearby regional communities with a population of 200 or more people within a 125km radius of the main access point for each large resource project.

The Coordinator-General is able to include or exclude large resource projects or nearby regional communities on the list, through discretionary decision powers.

Following publication of the first list, the Coordinator-General will consider requests to make discretionary decisions on whether to amend the:

  • 125-kilometre radius or minimum population for a ‘nearby regional community’
  • size of the workforce for a ‘large resource project’.

Social impact assessment guideline finalised

The Coordinator-General has approved and published a social impact assessment guideline. Social impact assessment, in accordance with the guideline, is now a mandatory requirement for all large resource projects, subject to an environmental impact statement process in Queensland.

The social impact assessment must be informed by stakeholder feedback and address the following key matters:

  • community and stakeholder engagement
  • workforce management
  • housing and accommodation
  • local business and industry procurement
  • health and community well-being.

Workforce management must prioritise recruitment from local and regional communities first, then those workers who will relocate to regional communities.

Post-implementation review

AMMA notes that the commencement of this Act comes while another piece of legislation that will increase regulatory burden for the resources sector, the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017, is set to commence in the coming weeks.

AMMA is concerned that the enormous benefits brought by major resource projects to the State as well as local and regional communities will be put at risk if the State Government continues to impose unnecessary and ill-conceived regulation on business.

The Queensland Government has committed to a post-implementation review of the SSRC Act to examine its effectiveness. The review will commence within 18–24 months, and must be concluded three years after the Act commences.

AMMA will be monitoring the effects of this legislation carefully. Members with feedback or concerns are encouraged to contact [email protected].