Inquiry looks at 'cancer of bush'

FLY-IN, fly-out mining has been described as "the cancer of the bush" as the head of an inquiry into the practice hinted at what could emerge from cross-country hearings.

Federal independent MP and inquiry chairman Tony Windsor said he would not "pre-empt" the group's findings - due to be reported by late October - but warned there were issues to grapple with.

Moranbah people have been split on the FIFO debate, with two community groups pushing caps on types of accommodation in an Urban Development Area, as well as pushing against 100% fly-in, fly-out workforces, particularly BMA's Caval Ridge Mine.

The community has also been up against increasing rental prices due to the accommodation shortage, with reports in November of rents skyrocketing past $3000 a week.

The Queensland Resources Council was already wary of what could grow from the findings, with chief executive Michael Roche urging the committee to "resist the urge to regulate".

Mr Windsor told APN Newsdesk there was an obvious need for FIFO workers when a project needed thousands to build it, but just hundreds to run it.

Mr Windsor said the ratio of residential workers versus outsiders was "an issue that had been raised rather than a recommendation".

"There is an issue of where you get below 70% residential and 30% non-residential, you begin to get a structural change," Mr Windsor said.

"If you get to 50/50, you weaken the social equity of the town."

His comments follow a decision by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union to end its fight against the Caval Ridge project that would use only fly-in, fly-out workers.

The mining giants often preferred residential workers because staff turnover fell when they settled into a nearby community.

But the growth of the industry meant towns near Central Queensland's Bowen Basin or the Surat Basin west of Toowoomba could not deliver the staff required.

Mr Roche said the industry was forced to tap into new sources of workforce, some of whom will be unable or unwilling to relocate to a mining area.

He said the proportion of fly-in workers might grow, but 100% FIFO mines would not become the norm.

Mr Roche said he hoped this inquiry used research, "not just opinion masquerading as research".

"The last thing we want is politicians sticking their bib in," he said.

The inquiry hearings are due to finish in June.

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