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Is it boom or gloom time?

Moranbah was in the spotlight in Monday night’s ABC Four Corners report.
Moranbah was in the spotlight in Monday night’s ABC Four Corners report.

FLY IN, fly out mining contractors have exposed the grim realities of life away from family in "primitive" towns like Moranbah, arguing that depression, loneliness, drinking and gambling go hand-in-hand with camp life.

But would they relocate their families to the community?

The answer was no.

In an ABC Four Corners report aired on Monday night, a Brisbane-based contractor working in Moranbah said the social problems were rife among FIFO workers, who worked long hours away from home in search of a dollar.

"Things that happen behind the scenes for females (in the town) is disgraceful," the contractor said.

"It's a male-orientated place. You might say they do the wrong thing to females because they think it's their god-given right with a bit of (alcohol) behind them. And no one does anything about it in this place."

Another worker said he was earning upwards of 200% more in Moranbah than he would on the Gold Coast where his family resided. Despite this, he said the town's social problems, lack of infrastructure and high cost of living meant he would not relocate his family there.

"You've got to do what you've got to do," he said.

With half a trillion dollars of resource projects proposed, the full brunt of the mining boom is far from being felt in its host communities, and the debate about how much mining companies and governments should contribute back into the towns rages on.

In the Bowen Basin alone, there are plans for another 37 coal mines.

That's on top of the 39 currently operating in the region.

The reaction on social media websites from Central Highlands' locals suggested the issues covered in the episode correlated with other communities in the region.

"Watch the Moranbah story people! This is nearly Blackwater… And Emerald in the not too distant future, especially with rent issues!" Blackwater's Christie Marschke said.

Lyn Busk is a Moranbah resident of 40 years and she has three children who live in the town with their families.

In her lifetime, she has seen a lot of change in her beloved community and she was sad to admit she feared for its future with the drastic change in demographic taking place.

"There are fewer volunteers and families involved in the community these days," Mrs Busk said.

"People aren't committing as much as they used to.

"A lot on (Four Corners) was true, but there are families here that love the place and don't want to leave.

"We need affordable housing - that's the key.

"The big companies need to realise they are damaging this town. And it is this town that services their long-term employees."

The area's largest miner BMA said it was investing millions into the community through housing initiatives.

But newly elected Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker questioned the company's decision to spend $50 million on an upgrade to the local airport.

"If I had $50m to spend I would be investing in family housing," Cr Baker said.

BMA asset president Steve Dumble said the airport was an important piece of company infrastructure that did not currently reflect the transport needs of a community like Moranbah.

"It's not one or the other. We are in the process over the next two years of building 383 dwellings across Moranbah and Dysart," Mr Dumble told the ABC.


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