La­bor must not bow to FIFO pres­sure

Pilbara News - - Opinion - Jac­qui Boy­dell, WA Na­tion­als deputy leader

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.

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