Discrimination a threat to FIFO laws
Thursday 10 November 2016
A Bill tabled last week by the Labor party in State Parliament to make 100% FIFO illegal in Queensland may never become law with two serious issues yet to be resolved.
For any law to be workable - it first needs to be enforceable - and with a few days to ponder the proposed Bill it is clear enforceability will at best be a paperwork nightmare, and at worst impossible.
Also, there are serious question marks over whether the laws are discriminatory.
For example, if the laws force mining companies to consider locals for jobs on large projects, what happens to the jobs advertised (and there have been many) that stipulate “residential only” or that candidates “must live local”? Will that also be outlawed?
Further, who decides when a mining company has tried hard enough to recruit locally? Who checks that a company really couldn’t find the skills it needed in Blackwater? What happens if 50 miners become redundant one day after applications close for a mine 10k from town?
While the document known as the Strong and Sustainable Resource Communities Bill was tabled this week by Mines Minister Anthony Lynham, everyone in the Bowen Basin knows that the bill is the work of Member for Mirani ( and former miner) Jim Pearce. He has made the reversal of these laws a personal obsession since they were introduced by former Labor Premier Anna Bligh at the height of the mining boom.
However, even he concedes there are some fine points that require further investigation.
“What this is about is to stop their being postcode discrimination for miners and their families,” Mr Pearce told Shift Miner.
“So in the situation, you have proposed, there would need to be some sort of paperwork trail, or register of what was advertised, where, and who responded, showing that mining companies did try to recruit a local workforce first.
“But if a company says that it had tried to recruit locally, and was found not to have - there would be big trouble.
“We are aware of the issue regarding jobs stipulating locals only, and I haven't got exact detail for that one, other than to say that the discriminatory aspects of the bill are complex.
“But this Bill will go back to the committee were all those issues are examined - but we are aware of them.”
The formation of a committee to review the bill follows two separate political enquiries, which at great cost and fanfare have talked about the issue without acting.
Part of the problem for the current Labor government is that they were the party that made the laws in the first place - meaning to reverse them is an astonishing backflip - even by Australian political standards.
So how did Labor get it so wrong?
“I suppose there was pressure on people at the time in the Bligh government,” Mr Pearce said.
“”But they simply didn’t talk to people in the regions about what was being proposed, they just listened to industry leaders.”
“This has taken a long time, most of that delay was because of issues around discrimination.
“I spat the dummy around about July over the time it was taking, but we aim to have these laws back to Parliament in March.”
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