Renewed calls to phase out workers' camps

AIMING HIGHER: Western Downs Regional Council mayor Paul McVeigh has called for 60% live-local targets for gas companies.
AIMING HIGHER: Western Downs Regional Council mayor Paul McVeigh has called for 60% live-local targets for gas companies. Matthew Newton

WESTERN Downs Regional Council mayor Paul McVeigh and Warrego MP Ann Leahy have ramped up calls for gas companies to start phasing out the use of workers' camps.

Cr McVeigh said the gas industry's transition from construction to operations phase meant the time had come "for workers to start living in our communities”.

"The CSG industry will be operating for many decades to come and it is logical that the people working to support its daily activity become part of the adjacent communities,” Cr McVeigh said.

"We have good schools, good medical services, good businesses, and attractive parks and gardens.

"And the best way to support our communities it to have more people living in (them).”

Ms Leahy said Cr McVeigh was "on the right track”.

"We do have some camps that are... within a stone's throw of towns,” she said.

"We appeal to those companies to look at their workforce and find ways how they can transition as many people as possible into the local towns.

"The towns can handle that population. We've got fantastic accommodation in those towns and we should be doing everything we can to encourage the companies to transition the operational workforce into those communities.”

Cr McVeigh said he was pushing for companies to get 60% of their work force living locally.

"We're not out in the bloody desert. We're 2-3 hours from the coast, we're not that isolated,” he said.

"Imagine if we could put another 200 people into Miles or Chinchilla. We'd fill those empty houses and increase our towns' liveability.

"We've got the coal, we've got the gas, now we're phasing in this renewable energy sector... we're going to see this around for years, decades to come.

"This isn't a short-term project, it's inter-generational. We say it regularly, we want to breed the next generation of (industry) workers, right here across our region.”

Pointing to Broadspectrum's achievement of having 85% of its workforce living in the communities in which they operate, Ms Leahy said "it can be done”.

"It needs to become the culture of the companies,” she said.

"They need to create that culture of living local, and encouraging the families of those workers to live locally.”

Origin's general manager for communities and access Natasha Patterson said the company had recently met with the mayor and Western Downs Regional Council to discuss what can be done and how to work together, to further improve regional economic outcomes.

"We both recognise the changes in moving from a large construction project to ongoing operations. We understand council is focussing on enhancing liveability across the region - and we're currently investigating opportunities to increase our presence,” she said.

"We have both agreed to work co-operatively to optimise the number of people living locally.”

Origin and QGC say almost a third of their workforces already live locally, and both have employment policies which encourage integration.

A QGC spokesperson added that the company needs "flexibility so we can attract skilled workers in the highly specialised gas industry and, given the vast distances, enable us to operate”.

Topics:  csg fifo gas companies industry politics warrego wdrc

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