Agreement over sustainable resident to FIFO ratio unlikely

The FIFO population of the Bowen and Galilee basins in central Queensland could reach 21,000 by 2021.
The FIFO population of the Bowen and Galilee basins in central Queensland could reach 21,000 by 2021. Christopher Chan

THERE is unlikely to be any agreement on a sustainable resident to FIFO ratio, Queensland's Coordinator-General has warned in his first annual report about the work practice.

Barry Broe said in the report that the vastly different priorities of stakeholders, including mining companies and resource communities, complicated any kind of agreement.

The document on the non-resident workforce in the Bowen and Surat basins tabled in Queensland Parliament earlier this week is part of the Palaszczuk government's election commitment to monitor 100% FIFO.

Mr Broe said perceptions of appropriate workforce arrangements also varied according to the economic cycle, type and proximity of the FlFO worker accommodation and geographic location of the project.

Rather than defining set ratios, Mr Broe suggested the government define its policy framework and guiding principles.

"In other words, define the set of rules that apply, with the FIFO outcome then the natural consequence of applying the rules in each specific situation," the report said.

"Assessing the flow-on effects of social, community and economic impacts on regional communities and defining sustainable resident to FIFO ratios is complex and subjective."

The Queensland Government Statistician's Office has loosely predicted the FIFO population of the Bowen and Galilee basins in central Queensland could reach 21,000 by 2021, depending on new resource development.

But the QGSO also said it could be as low as 13,000.

The population peaked at 25,000 in 2012, dropped to 16,000 in 2014, and is expected to fall further this year.

The Surat Basin in south-west Queensland had a 125% jump in FIFO workers between 2012 and 2014, reaching 14,000.

The QGSO predicts a drop as construction winds back.

Already among the fastest growing local government areas in Queensland, Gladstone's FIFO population skyrocketed by 36% in the year to June 2014 reaching 6600.

Next year, the Coordinator-General will invite the Local Government Association of Queensland, local governments, state agencies and other key stakeholders to provide data to support future reporting.

Mr Broe said future reports would also likely be influenced by the outcomes of the government's response to the parliamentary committee inquiry into FIFO and the FIFO panel review report.


Topics:  fifo mining queensland

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