A move to end the discriminatory practice of 100% Fly-In Fly-Out work practices which rob locals of job opportunities was the first key item on the agenda in Parliament House in Canberra this morning.
Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry and Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen put up a Private Member’s Bill to amend the Fair Work Act 2009 to make it illegal for companies to lock people out of jobs based on where they live.
The two MPS – whose electorates cover the nation’s biggest coal belt in Central Queensland – are fighting a practice where jobs advertised for two local mine sites near Moranbah state that only people living within a Brisbane or Cairns postcode could apply.
Mr Christensen put the bill, seconded by Ms Landry, to the floor of parliament seeking to make the practice illegal because it discriminates against local families.
“Our bill is about ensuring all workers get a fair go when it comes to applying for jobs right on their doorstep, and ending the geographic discrimination which is inherent in this practice,” Mr Christensen said.
“It (100% FIFO) was introduced by the Bligh Labor Government when the coal industry was experiencing a boom, and little thought was given to the effect of such a practice when the boom had passed.
“We now have people who live in places like Mackay and Moranbah who are unable to apply for jobs at certain mines which are just down the road. This discrimination needs to end, and our push is about ensuring that workers who live in Central Queensland can apply for any, and all, jobs going in our coal mining sector.”
Ms Landry has been fighting against the practice of 100% FIFO since taking office and said people and the media appeared to have forgotten that the blame for the impact of 100% FIFO on local business and workers ‘lies fairly and squarely’ with the Queensland Labor Party.
“In Queensland – the Labor Party introduced a policy of allowing 100% fly-in fly-out workers on two critical coal mines in Capricornia which excluded locals, and now job advertisements for 100% FIFO positions declare that applicants must live within 100km of Brisbane Airport or Cairns in order to obtain work west of Rockhampton and Mackay,” Ms Landry said.
“That means any local worker – trying to support their family at Moranbah or Dysart or Nebo and other Capricornia towns – are not allowed to apply for jobs here, even though the mine site may be as little as 15 minutes’ drive up the road.
“Our bill aims to amend the Fair Work Act prohibiting discrimination based on the location of your home.”
Ms Landry said state Labor’s 100% FIFO rule was hurting the survival of local towns and Labor had left Central Queensland families, small business owners and coal workers stuck with it due to contact legalities which the state government could not unwind.
“If people can’t get work and live in local communities they simply leave. The consequence is that small business suffers, schools lose resources and other community services begin to dwindle. In short our small mining towns are dying. The bill that we – as LNP/National Party MPs – present to the House of Representatives in Canberra aims to help these communities.”
Ms Landry lashed out at Queensland Labor’s recent inquiry into 100% FIFO, led by union activist Jim Pearce, labelling it as hot air.
“The Labor Party does not want to ‘man up’ to the fact that it was Queensland Labor leaders who introduced this despicable practice in the first place under former Premier Anna Bligh. Their recent inquiry did not tell us anything we did not already know.
“The intention of our private member’s bill in Canberra is to ensure that Central Queenslanders can apply for Central Queensland jobs in our coal mining sector without discrimination.”
The amendment to the federal Fair Work Act reads: An employer must not take adverse action against a person who is an employee, or prospective employee, of the employer because of where the person lives.
There are currently two BMA mines in the region, Daunia and Caval Ridge, which have a 100% FIFO workforce.