FIFO the big debate

(1 Vote)

Population growth. Better educational outcomes. Higher incomes. Reducing unemployment.

Falling home ownership. Anti-social behaviour. Rising cost of living.

These are just some of the ways fly-in-fly-out workers are reportedly changing regional communities.

So, which claims are true?

In a bid to find out, Federal Parliament is conducting an inquiry into the costs and benefits of FIFO workers on regional areas.

The results of that report are due out this month.

The Minerals Council of Australia, however, has beat them to it.

It has just released the findings of its own report, which compiles basic demographic profiles of residents in the nation’s nine main mining and resource regions*.

The Minerals Council says the study, undertaken by KPMG, debunks a number of myths and anecdotal claims about the impact of the mining sector on regional Australia.

It shows that rather than hollowing out regional communities, mining is in fact boosting incomes, attracting families and reducing unemployment in the areas where it operates.

“They’re growing at a faster rate than non-mining regions. More employment, higher incomes, better educational outcomes and more people moving into those regions," Minerals Council Chief Executive Mitch Hooke told ABC News.

But, the findings have been met with scepticism.

The president of the Roebourne Shire, which encompasses the Pilbara in the west, didn’t want a bar of it. She told the ABC that the Minerals Council study misses half the story.

"We have about 12,000 FIFO in our shire every night that do not pay rates, yet they utilise all the shire facilities, all our road infrastructure etc, but we can't get the income from that," Fiona White-Hartig said.

"They take their money and they spend it when they go home. So we are essentially are supporting this whole economy with FIFO workers that don't support our town.”

These negative comments about FIFO workers are not uncommon.

Back in September, the Mount Isa City Council called on the Federal Government to put an end to FIFO mining jobs.

As part of the previously mentioned parliamentary inquiry, Mount Isa Mayor Tony McGrady and his deputy Brett Peterson called for mining workers to be forced to live in small towns, rather than operating on a FIFO basis.

They asked for tighter rules surrounding zone allowance tax concession and for restrictions around the number of workers allowed to live locally.

As for whose voice will win out, we’ll have to wait for the outcome of the federal parliamentary inquiry.

In the meantime, here are some of the other findings from the KPMG study worth mulling over:

  1. There is higher full-time employment in mining regions – 66 per cent compared with 58 per cent across regional Australia
  2. All but two mining regions recorded an unemployment rate below the national unemployment rate (5.2 per cent) and the regional Australian unemployment rate (5.4 per cent)
  3. There is a higher proportion of families in mining regions than non-mining regions. 33 per cent of resident households are made up of parents and children in mining regions, compared to 29 per cent across regional Australia
  4. There are higher rates of Year 12 completions in mining regions – 41 per cent compared with the regional Australian average of 37 per cent
  5. Home ownership in mining regions lower at 61 per cent compared with 70 per cent across regional Australia
  6. Mining regions tend to have a higher working-age population (people aged between 15 and 64) than other regional areas.

* The mining regions examined in the Minerals Council study were the Pilbara, Central-West (WA), Surat Basin, North West QLD, the Hunter Valley, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Central SA, the Galilee Basin and the Bowen Basin.


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Minetalk Poll

Is the mining boom in Australia over?

Is the mining boom in Australia over?

No, it's just media hype.
Still plenty of resources.
There will be a second boom.
Yes as a result of lower demand.
1 Votes left

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