Seeney contradicts Premier's election promise on FIFO
THE Queensland Government is attempting to rewrite history by claiming it always backed Central Queensland mines, ignoring local workers to recruit entirely from out-of-town.
According to Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney, the government has never opposed specific projects using an entirely fly-in, fly-out workforce because it gave workers a choice on where to live.
This is despite Premier Campbell Newman himself once ruling out the practice in 2011 while electioneering in Central Queensland.
Through a spokesman, Mr Newman this week said the government's position on 100% fly-in, fly-out for some mines was always the same - it helped workers choose where they wanted to live.
The Caval Ridge and Daunia coal mines employ about 900 workers flown in and out each week from Brisbane and Cairns.
They are two of seven BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance mines in the region, the rest employing a mixture of local and fly-in workers.
The 100% FIFO deal was approved by the former Bligh government - a decision Mr Seeney said was the right one at the time.
In July 2011 - as Campbell Newman toured regional Queensland - the future Premier said there would never be 100% FIFO arrangements for any mine.
"It is not acceptable to us," he told reporters.
"We understand that fly-in, fly-out has its place as a component of, and the answer of, providing a workforce ... but a 100% fly-in, fly-out is just simply something we would not tolerate if we get into government."
In late 2011, the LNP released its 59-page resources and energy policy - signed by Mr Newman and Mr Seeney and still available on the LNP website.
It describes how "the LNP has made clear its policy of not supporting 100% FIFO mining operation workforces".
Mr Seeney said "not supporting 100% FIFO" actually referred to not supporting it at every single Queensland mine.
He said the former Labor Government made "the right decision at the time" to support 100% FIFO at the two mines.
Mr Seeney said the 100% FIFO deal for the two BMA mines created choice for workers.
"If they want to live locally, there are plenty of opportunities to work locally," he said.
The Queensland Resources Council estimates up to 8000 Queensland mining jobs have vanished since mid-2012 as coal prices tumbled.
The use of only fly-in, fly-out workers at the two mines ensured the safety of workers, Mr Seeney said, who might otherwise drive tired after their shifts ended.
"Tragically there have been a number of people killed - constituents of mine and friends of mine - who seek to drive home to communities in my electorate after a long shift," he said.
Earlier this month, a worker at Caval Ridge described how after finishing a seven 12-hour shifts, flights were often hit by delays.
He said it made for an exhausting drive home to either the Gold or Sunshine coasts.
When the Premier was asked his current view, given his previous comments, a spokesman said "the state government's position on this issue has not changed".
He said the government has always supported giving Queenslanders a choice on where they live and work.
- July 2011 - Future premier Campbell Newman (LNP)tells Moranbah: "100% fly-in, fly-out is just simply something we would not tolerate if we get into government".
- August 2011 - Mirani MP Ted Malone (LNP) tells Parliament: the LNP has re-confirmed its opposition to 100% FIFO workforces for mining and resources development
- November 2011 - "CANDO LNP Resources and Energy Strategy signed by Mr Newman, Jeff Seeney and Jack Dempsey: "the LNP has made clear its policy of not supporting 100% FIFO mining operation workforces"
- March 24, 2012 - LNP elected in landslide win.
- September 14, 2012 - Mines Minister Andrew Cripps (LNP) writes to Local Government Association Queensland: the government has made clear its policy of not supporting 100% FIFO mining operation workforces", while conceding that some fly-in, fly-out or drive-in, drive-out workers would always be necessary.
- February 20, 2013 - Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney describes "an economic boost" as 900 workers at Moranbah mines Daunia and Caval Ridge are recruited exclusively from Brisbane and Cairns.
- March 7, 2014 - Central Qld federal MPs George Christensen and Michelle Landry (both LNP) describe the state policy on 100% FIFO as "geographic discrimination", raise it with Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss.
- April 8, 2014 - Mirani MP Ted Malone says he is "opposed to total fly-in, fly-out" however felt there was some justification for its need.
- April 10, 2014 - Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan (LNP) in Central Queensland says 100% FIFO is "absolutely despised" and he would raise it with the Deputy Premier.
- May 27, 2014 - Gregory MP Vaughan Johnson (LNP) describes 100% FIFO as "100% evil", says it is something "the current government is trying to rectify".
- May 28, 2014 - In an interview with APN, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney (LNP) describes the term 100% FIFO as "misleading and emotive". He said allowing two mines to use no local workers ensures people can choose where they live. Those who wish to live locally can work at any of the other more than 40 mines in the Queensland that hire both local and commuting workers.
- May 29. 2014 - A spokesman for Premier Campbell Newman confirms the government policy on 100% FIFO has never changed. The government supports of a mix of local/FIFO workers.