An oil and gas rig worker fears state government “punishing” quarantine measures will create industry delays potentially worth “hundreds of millions” of dollars. Photo: Andrey Rudakov
An oil and gas rig worker fears state government “punishing” quarantine measures will create industry delays potentially worth “hundreds of millions” of dollars. Photo: Andrey Rudakov

FIFO dad’s frustration at ‘punishing’ quarantine flaws

An oil and gas rig worker fears the State Government's "punishing" quarantine measures will create industry delays potentially worth "hundreds of millions" of dollars.

Tewnatin father Tim Webb, who is in midst of a three-week shift working in the Bass Strait, has pleaded with the Queensland Government to reconsider its strict exemption criteria.

To get onto the rig, Mr Webb must complete two weeks of quarantine, followed by his three weeks work, all of "minimum" 12-hour days, then two more weeks of quarantine.

Despite coming from an "airtight" rig and walking through an "empty" airport, Mr Webb said that was what it took to come home and see his wife Sharona, and children Madi, 13, Olivia, 10, and Jake, 4.

The fly-in-fly-out worker said he feared the tough exemption measures would create long-term problems and cost the resources industry potentially "hundreds of millions".

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"Projects are already starting to be delayed or shut down," Mr Webb said.

"This project I'm on was supposed to be an 18-month job but now we are looking likely to finish in two months' time.

"We have only been going for eight months and two of those were to make the site COVID-19 Safe.

"Hundreds of millions of dollars, which could be such a boost to keep the economy going, if there's more delays."

Sharona Webb and her children, Olivia, 10, Jake, 4, and Madi, 13. Photo: Patrick Woods
Sharona Webb and her children, Olivia, 10, Jake, 4, and Madi, 13. Photo: Patrick Woods

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has long maintained the tough measures were to keep the state safe, which was backed up by a state government spokesman.

The spokesman said all decisions regarding the coronavirus pandemic and border restrictions were based on the expert medical advice of the Chief Health Officer.

"Government, health authorities and the industry have worked closely together to protect the workforce and the communities they live and work in, while maintaining operations," the spokesman said.

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However, Mr Webb said the uncertainty created by the strict criteria, compounded by not seeing family for weeks on end, would mean some people quit the industry.

The senior driller called for state governments to be more cohesive in finding ways to make FIFO workers exempt from the "punishing" quarantining.

To date, Mr Webb's plea to be made exempt has been unsuccessful after CHO Dr Jeannette Young argued the Tullamarine Airport in the Victorian hotspot posed too great a risk.

Dr Young told reporters at a press conference on Friday she did not grant Mr Webb an exemption because Tullamarine airport had experienced yet another coronavirus outbreak.

Sharona Webb and her children, Olivia, 10, Jake, 4, and Madi, 13, with Rachel Bourne and her children, Samantha, 11, Mason, 5, Pippa, 9, and Taylor, 12, want to see Queensland’s quarantine measures relaxed so their FIFO dads can come home. Photo: Patrick Woods
Sharona Webb and her children, Olivia, 10, Jake, 4, and Madi, 13, with Rachel Bourne and her children, Samantha, 11, Mason, 5, Pippa, 9, and Taylor, 12, want to see Queensland’s quarantine measures relaxed so their FIFO dads can come home. Photo: Patrick Woods

Her solution, she said, would be if Mr Webb's employer could transport workers to a different airport instead.

"I really do feel for him and I hope that his employer can do some work there to sort it out so that it can be managed better than what it is," she said.

"But it is purely about the risk of going through Tullamarine airport. So there are other airports they might be able to work through."

Mr Webb argued the company he worked for had already applied, and been knocked back, to travel through a different airport.

"Queensland is being quite harsh," he said.

"I've been on a rig in the middle of the ocean and come back through such a low risk airport.

"It's not busy, mine was the only flight that day and I am dressed in full PPE. It's just punishing."



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