Good behaviour pacts for FIFO PDF Print E-mail
THE WEST AUSTRALIAN   
Thursday, 14 February 2013 08:49

Mining companies should consider getting fly-in, fly-out workers to sign "social contracts" promising to behave, according to a Federal Government inquiry.

It found communities believed the workers contributed to violence, predatory behaviour and alcohol and drug use in their towns.

After 18 months investigating the impacts of FIFO on Australian life, a Federal parliamentary committee has highlighted major areas for changes aimed to benefit regional areas that host non-permanent workforces and the families and wider communities where the workers live.

The report Cancer of the Bush or Salvation for our Cities looked at evidence from residents across Australia.

It found an "us versus them" mentality that troubled communities and created divisions between locals and FIFO workers.

It said North West communities that hosted the State's 90,000 fly-in, fly-out workers would benefit from improved social integration and suggested all FIFO workers sign social contracts.

The contracts would require them to behave responsibly when on and off duty to improve integration between miners and host towns.

The WA Nationals leader and candidate for the Pilbara seat at the State election, Brendon Grylls, said yesterday that while the drunken antics of FIFO workers was a big issue, he believed social contracts were not the way forward.

"I dare say that type of thing would happily be signed by the good people and the people that carry on like dills, which I think is the minority, would probably sign it anyway and not change their behaviour," he said.

"I don't think a social contract solves the problem.

"What solves the problem is having less FIFO workers and you're only going to have less FIFO workers if we can get the liveability, the amenity . . . all of those things in the Pilbara right."

Port Hedland mayor Kelly Howlett, who is standing for Labor against Mr Grylls, said enforcing the contracts would be difficult.

She said bringing people together in the community would be a more practical solution.

The report depicted the stark realities for many locals dealing with a regular influx of FIFO labour: long-time residents choosing to leave and "cashing out" on high property prices, service providers such as teachers and police unable to afford accommodation and the collapse of local sporting teams.

The report recommended that a strategy to address the lack of affordable housing in mining towns, which compared prices in Port Hedland with harbourside homes in Sydney, be developed by the National Housing Supply Council by June 27.

Report committee chairman Tony Windsor, who tabled the document in Parliament yesterday, said that while FIFO was not a new practice, it was now erod- ing the liveability of regional communities.

The impact on the families and children of FIFO workers also needed to be investigated further after mixed evidence from the public, which ranged from little effect to devastating consequences for those left at home.

 



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