Mining operations excluding local jobseekers

AS QUEENSLAND'S mining towns seethe about coal companies recruiting entire workforces from elsewhere, the campaign is delivering a windfall for coastal regions keen to capitalise.

Two Bowen Basin mines, west of Mackay in Central Queensland, are using 1000 workers pulled either from south-east Queensland or Cairns, excluding jobseekers who live either locally or within driving distance.

Such is the frustration of the mining communities, Federal Coalition MPs in the area are now fighting their own as the Queensland LNP Government's policy threatens to damage their voter support.

Sunshine Coast mayor Mark Jamieson, whose region is attracting plenty of fly-in, fly-out workers, said he wants to see the trend continue.

"It's not surprising that a large number of FIFO workers want to live, or continue to live, on the Sunshine Coast given the lifestyle it offers," he said.

"We are keen to build that number."

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The Sunshine Coast has had an unemployment rate above the state average since June 2009, although its growing health and construction sectors may now be closing that gap.

Mr Jamieson said the Sunshine Coast Airport was negotiating with airlines to better connect the Coast to the mines as more workers chase high-paying roles at the coalface.

Mine owners BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance defends the use of a commuter workforce, saying it already supports about 4000 workers who live nearby.

Of the 1000 needed for its Daunia and Caval Ridge mines, "about 200" were recruited from the Sunshine and Gold coasts.

With the net cast for those within 100km from Brisbane, those living north of Peregian Beach were not considered.

Isaac Mayor Anne Baker, whose council covers Moranbah, said using 100% FIFO was "the single biggest threat facing regional resource communities and will ultimately destroy the wealth of regional Australia".

She said qualified local workers were having to relocate if they were to be considered for a job in their home town.

Mr Jamieson said he could not comment on issues relating to Central Queensland.


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