Labor must not bow to FIFO pressure
I was disappointed to read the recent Pilbara News front page story (Workers’ camp jobs boom, 16/8).
The Nationals have a strong history of confronting major mining companies over their intrinsic desire to house workers in camps. In 2016 then-Nationals leader and lands minister Terry Redman stared down thenpremier Colin Barnett to ensure BHP was unable to expand its Kurra Village fly-in, fly-out camp in Newman when the town was awash with empty residential properties.
Similarly, the Nationals stood our ground on behalf of the Karratha community in 2015 when Woodside wanted to extend its lease on the 2000-bed Gap Ridge Village.
For Woodside to “spin” this new FIFO camp as a local jobs boom is disingenuous. Sure, some temporary construction jobs may be created if — and it’s always a big if in the Pilbara —Woodside decides to use local contractors.
But then what? When these jobs dry up following practical completion, all the community has to show for it is another camp where FIFO workers stay behind the boom gate and disengage with Karratha business and don’t use community facilities.
When in government, the Nationals transformed Karratha into an attractive place for new residents to move to and bring their families. A FIFO camp will only encourage the transient lifestyle and attitude which has seen many Pilbara towns suffer.
The Nationals accept FIFO is sometimes necessary. However, where there is a significant-sized community, then it’s important to ensure we get best use of those communities, rather than having a work camp right next door.
Last week The Nationals questioned the Labor Government in State Parliament over Woodside’s proposed Karratha camp.
The response from the lands minister was that no decision had been made. The front page of the local paper suggested otherwise.
Labor should reject this proposal outright.