Govt 'oblivious' to community 'damage' from FIFO work

STATE and federal governments are "oblivious to the damage" fly-in, fly-out work is doing to regional communities, an inquiry into the practice has found.

The Standing Committee on Regional Australia spent almost 18 months examining the impact FIFO and drive-in, drive-out was having on regional workforces, the findings of which were contained in an extensive 209-page report tabled in Parliament this morning.

Independent MP Tony Windsor, who chaired the committee, wrote in the report's foreword that governments of all levels needed to recognise FIFO was a "cancer" for some regional areas, particularly traditional mining communities like Moranbah.

The report makes 21 recommendations to government and 14 suggestions to industry, designed to build stronger inland regional communities alongside a strong resources industry.

"Regional communities need a champion. This report calls for a champion," Mr Windsor wrote.

"It recognises that there are some circumstances where FIFO/DIDO is warranted - for construction and very remote operations.

"But for operational positions located near existing regional communities, every effort should be made to make FIFO/DIDO the exception rather than the rule."

>>Read the full report here

Mr Windsor wrote a lack of empirical evidence on the issue of FIFO made it almost impossible for governments to respond in a way that supports regional communities.

He argues a policy mix is needed to ensure FIFO does not become the dominant practice as it could lead to "a hollowing out of established regional towns, particularly those inland".

The member for New England also argues the same resource companies operating in Australia are operating profitably in countries like Canada and Mongolia while building regional communities.

"This report challenges them to extend this approach to their Australian operations," he wrote.

In a statement, Mr Windsor described the report as "pro-regional Australia".

"It calls for the mining industry to value regional Australia as much as regional Australia values the industry as a major employer and contributor to the wealth of this nation," he said.

The committee held extensive hearings all over the country, visited mining operations overseas and received more than 230 submissions.

Mr Windsor and other members of the committee will front the media in Canberra later today.


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