The pressure has been put on Adani to make Rockhampton one of the fly-in fly-out hubs for its new Central Queensland coal mine workforce.
The mining giant’s push for a 100% FIFO workforce at the proposed Carmichael mine has provoked strong responses from both sides of politics.
As reported in The Morning Bulletin, Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry (LNP Federal), Member for Mirani Jim Pearce (Labor, Qld) and economist John Rolfe all voiced concerns yesterday that while they understood the necessity for a commuting workforce due to the mine's remoteness, staff should be coming from the Central Queensland region.
Adani claims the Carmichael mine project, located 165km from Clermont and more than 600km from Rockhampton, would create about 10,000 jobs, a claim that is currently being disputed.
Mining union CFMEU slammed Adani yesterday for the FIFO proposal, suggesting investments in long-term housing on-site should not be dismissed.
But CQUniversity economist Professor John Rolfe said the FIFO move could be a shot in the arm for Rockhampton's economy.
"I think it fits with the pattern of development in the more remote areas of Australia. It is cheaper and easier to have a commuting workforce than building a new town to support a mine site," he said.
"There are a lot of opportunities for the cities and towns in CQ to benefit more directly from the mine, so the workforce is more likely to be located here... it would arrest the slowdown in the resources sector in Central Queensland in regards to job losses... it would be a huge boost to CQ."
Prof Rolfe said it was important that people across CQ were given the opportunity to receive jobs as they became available.
Mr Pearce said accepting the 100% FIFO proposal from Adani was a matter of being realistic.
"There is a general acceptance that it would be a FIFO workforce but, in saying that, we should be working with the company to make Townsville, Mackay, Rocky hubs for workers to fly out of those cities," he said.
Ms Landry echoed these sentiments, but added local councils and airlines needed to ensure there were flights to collect CQ workers enroute to the mine.
"Rockhampton, Mackay, Emerald and Isaac councils should form a coalition to negotiate local flights... what we definitely don't want to see is FIFO workers flown in exclusively from Brisbane, Townsville or Cairns. I have told Adani that a move like that would be as good as double crossing Central Queenslanders," she said.
Land Court president Carmel MacDonald is expected to take up to six months to decide on her recommendations on the giant mine following a recent five-week case where environmental group Coast and Country claimed Adani had overstated its workforce and understated key environmental risks, including the impact on the "exceptional ecological values" of the Doongmabulla Springs, and the endangered black-throated finch and the waxy cabbage palm.