QRC urges against FIFO regulation
THE parliamentary inquiry into fly-in, fly-out workers is digging the dirt on itinerant miners, outlining risks of STDs, depression, and even exotic diseases.
But the peak body for mining firms want the Federal Government to keep their hands off the way they use workers.
The Queensland Resources Council fears the government could try to enforce minimum local-worker targets on projects, something that would worsen an already burgeoning skills crisis.
The latest Perth hearings follow a number of sessions across the country, including hearings in Moranbah and Brisbane.
Australian Medical Association Western Australian president Professor David Mountain told one hearing there was "high-risk behaviour" that comes from being young, "cashed-up" and bored in an isolated area.
The head of the AMA's Queensland branch Dr Richard Kidd said data was not quite as concrete as in Western Australia, but anecdotally, Queensland workers were dealing with the same problems.
Dr Kidd said just being employed as a FIFO worker was enough to put your health at risk.
"The FIFO workforce is probably more vulnerable in the way of mental health issues in not being available to their families," he said.
"A significant number are going to south-east Asia and they're bringing back exotic diseases, plus sexually transmitted diseases that are more difficult to treat."
Infection with foreign versions of Dengue fever, Chlamydia and gonorrhoea have grown in areas rich with mining communities.
QRC chief Michael Roche said workers were always treated well, because they were in such high demand.
"The overwhelming point we need to make is that FIFO workers will vote with their feet if they don't like their accommodation arrangements or their other conditions," Mr Roche said.
He said workers must have the option to either commute or live near the site, or vacancies would grow out of control.
Mr Roche said mining villages - or camps - that house the workforce was consistently encouraging healthy eating and exercise.
"They promote healthy diet options, lots of recreation facilities - they're the things the modern workers demands and expects.
Mr Roche said the inquiry seemed already to lean towards bringing in more regulation for mining companies, something the QRC opposed.
"I'll be urging pollies to resist the urge to regulate," he said.
"The last thing we want is politicians sticking their bib in."