AGAINST the advice of several leading industry bodies including AMMA, the Queensland Government last week introduced legislation to ban resource operators in the state from engaging a “100% fly-in, fly-out workforce”.

In a statement, Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham said the Strong and Sustainable Resource Communities Bill 2016 would apply to ‘large resources projects’ located within 100 kilometres of a ‘regional centre’.

According to the minister, the Bill  will: :

  • prevent 100 per cent FIFO operations in new large resource projects where nearby regional community has a capable workforce;
  • require large resource projects to consider locals for employment;
  • ensure competitive local businesses have the opportunity to win contracts and be part of the project’s supply chain; and
  • help protect resource worker health and wellbeing.

The introduction of this legislation follows the Palaszczuk Government’s 2015 Parliamentary Committee inquiry into FIFO work practices in the resource sector. AMMA took part in the inquiry and had consistently argued against a heavy handed approach or over-regulating FIFO work (see related article).

Responding to this latest development, AMMA head of policy Scott Barklamb said the government’s new legislation was counterproductive to reducing costly, cumbersome red tape compliance and regulation burdens on resource operators in Queensland.

“AMMA recognises that many local residents do not support 100% FIFO mining operations where mines are located nearby their communities. Similarly, our vision closely aligns to the principle of people from all walks of life having job opportunities in the resource industry,” Mr Barklamb said.

“However, we do not agree at all with this move from the Palaszczuk government. The 2015 FIFO inquiry related to a very narrow issue, confined to a small number of coal mines in the Bowen Basin, and does not justify the broad brush, retrospective response contained in the Bill.

“AMMA for a significant period of time has been urging federal and states governments to reduce costly, cumbersome red tape compliance and regulation burdens to help improve perceptions of Australia as place to invest and do business. This unnecessary move is exactly the type of regulation that risks making doing business in Queensland less attractive to both local and global companies.”

Mr Barklamb noted that according to the internationally respected Fraser Institute Mining Competitiveness Survey, Queensland’s current mineral potential is ranked 17th in the world but its mining policies are ranked 32nd in the world.

Further industry concerns with the proposed legislation include safety, with the Bill assuming employees can commute up to 200 kilometres to and from work each day; and possible unintended consequences such as restricting employer access to potential skilled labour pools in other areas of the state.

AMMA understands the Strong and Sustainable Resource Communities Bill 2016 will likely move be subject to a parliamentary inquiry process through to early 2017, hopefully allowing further consultation with industry and an opportunity to improve on some elements of the Bill.

Click here to view the Strong and Sustainable Resource Communities Bill 2016.

Click here to read Minister Lynham’s statement on the bill.

For more information on this issues, or to provide input into potential future AMMA representations to the Queensland Parliament on FIFO practices, please contact AMMA’s principal adviser – industry & economic policy, Tristan Menalda via [email protected]