Deputy PM under the grill about FIFO work practices

DEPUTY Prime Minister and Nationals Leader Warren Truss is being dragged into a growing furore about fly-in, fly-out arrangements being used at Central Queensland's mines and gas projects.

It has been 13 months since a federal inquiry into FIFO work practices published its final report - Cancer of the Bush or Salvation for our Cities? - but the Coalition Government is yet to discuss it.

Mr Truss is the one who must respond to the inquiry's findings. He has been in government for six months. His office said the government "will respond in due course".

Inquiry chairman and former independent MP Tony Windsor said Mr Truss and his government were "not interested in that issue".

Mr Windsor has long raised concerns that FIFO arrangements were hurting regional communities which shoulder the burden of resources development without encouraging local growth because income-earners are sent back to the cities.

"I would have thought a country party, supposedly there to find employment for as many country people as it can, would have treated this with a bit more respect," he said.

The inquiry featured country members from the Liberals, Nationals, Labor and independents.

The fight over commuter staff is reaching its peak in parts of the state - particularly the coalfields west of Mackay - where new mines are being opened with their entire rosters recruited from either Cairns or south-east Queensland.

BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance recruited about 1000 workers from the two locations, refusing to consider qualified locals..

Arrangements approved by the former Labor state government and similarly endorsed by its LNP replacements also risk setting a precedent for gas pipeline and major refineries being developed in Queensland and emerging coal developments in New South Wales.

Mr Windsor said with companies now pulling workers from regional centres, it was inevitable that recruiting could be narrowed to just Brisbane or Sydney.

"That is the cancer, it actually eats away at those people who live in those towns."

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FACTBOX...

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WHAT THEY SAY

Dawson MP George Christensen (LNP):

I believe this geographic discrimination when it comes to employment should be illegal.

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BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance boss Lucas Dow:

We made a careful and considered decision to operate our newest mines, Caval Ridge and Daunia with remote workforce arrangements

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Capricornia MP Michelle Landry (LNP):

We're the ones who have to put up with harsher conditions, the bad roads, lack of facilities in those mining towns.

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Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss (NAT)

It is appropriate for the Government to carefully consider its options before responding (to the FIFO report)

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Isaac Regional Mayor Anne Baker (covering Moranbah)100% forced FIFO is the single biggest threat facing regional resource communities.

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Deputy Qld Premier Jeff Seeney (LNP)

"This argument is not about percentages, it's about providing balanced workforce solutions... that don't dictate to Queenslanders where they should live."

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Mackay state MP Tim Mulherin (ALP)This is post code apartheid.

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Former Independent Federal MP Tony Windsor

It just takes people out of those communities where those mines are. They don't have a chance.


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