Rosewood Camp Blackwater
Rosewood Camp Blackwater

DECISIONS on a flood of workers' accommodation camps could be the first order of business for the new Central Highlands Regional Council following the April 28 local government elections.

The new-look council will have to decide on development applications for eight camps that could lead to an extra 4040 single-person dwellings in the Highlands.

That's about four times the population of Springsure.

CHRC Mayor Peter Maguire said the camp issue was a difficult one.

"Councillors are required to assess every development application on its own merit under state planning schemes as well as local government town planning schemes," Cr Maguire said.


"I don't like the camps as much as the next person, but unfortunately they are a fact of life at the moment."

CHRC mayor Peter Maguire


"It's about making the most of a tough situation under the guidelines in which we are allowed to act."

Cr Maguire said the influx of more transient workers into the region must be coupled with more royalties being invested back into the region.

"All the major issues we are facing at the moment are at the hands of the resources sector," he said.

The largest of the eight development applications is for a 700-person BMA workers camp about 20km south of Blackwater, on the Blackwater-Rolleston Rd.

Further south, BMA has been conducting coal exploration activity for what it calls the Kennedy Project.

Thirteen properties are currently affected by the project, and the landholders have banded together to form the Toprain BMA Exploration Group.

"If we have these big camps around the place, it is critical that they are followed by money invested here," spokesman Kevin Pickersgill said.


"The impact and demand they place on infrastructure is enormous."

Landholder Kevin Pickersgill


Mr Pickersgill said it was a tough process for landholders dealing with the prospect of mining on their land.

"At first you're angered; you realise you don't have any rights over your own land and these guys have more rights than you do," he said.

"It then turns to frustration because of the uncertainty. We don't know what our future will be or what our kids' future will be. Apart from some early problems, BMA has been trying hard to do the right thing.

"But it's frustrating, we don't know what's going on.

"As long as they are fair and reasonable with us, we will be fair and reasonable with them."

Gregory Candidates Respond

The five faces standing for the electorate were asked a series of questions on where they thought camps belonged.

Three answered:

Vaughan Johnson - LNP

There is a gut reaction to say all camps must be on-site, but like most things the issue has a number of aspects.

In Emerald, families struggle to get a family home because so many are share-housed to single or FIFO workers.

The important thing is that the Government should not ask local residents to sacrifice their lifestyles so the rest of Queensland gets rich on the back of the mining boom. The boom must be intelligently managed.

60:40 maximum (on the FIFO ratio). One way to use this ratio to help the communities who host mining would be to ask mining companies to create housing stock equivalent to 30% of a project's workforce.

I know both the Isaac Regional Council and the Central Highlands Regional Council are working methodically to put solutions in place, and if I am re-elected I will do everything in my power to support their efforts.

Pauline Williams - Katter's Australian Party

Well run camps, nicely presented, are a credit to their operations, however when the residents become unruly it becomes a problem for the town, the mines and the camp.

Skilled labour is the biggest problem the resource sector faces, causing the requirement for FIFO/DIDO workers.

Housing affordability and staff retention are problems we hear about daily.

To combat this for small business and personnel alike, we need to look at the housing in Emerald and other towns also affected (Cappella, Moranbah etc).

Bruce Currie - independent

I would prefer camps to be out of towns. Actually as close to the work site as possible to reduce road accidents caused by fatigue. Every effort should be made to encourage people/families to live in the towns that service the mines, in the way of housing, services etc.

In general I would not want foreign workers in the mines; the money from wages desperately needs to go through the Australian economy.

A close examination of how other countries have handled their economies through mining booms would be a valuable starting point. 

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