A camp in Moranbah.
Photo Tara Miko / CQ News
A camp in Moranbah. Photo Tara Miko / CQ News Tara Miko

LETTER: Bring people back into the mining towns

SURPRISE, surprise who would have thought it would come to this?

Anyone who has had a fair bit to do with living in mining towns knew exactly what was going to happen when the State Government and the local shire councils okayed the building of camps that housed up to 2000-3000 people at a time, seven days a week, right on the doorsteps of existing towns that were once quite vibrant.

If they are not in the camps they are bused in and out to the coastal spots in Central Queensland towns, such as Gracemere, Rockhampton, Yeppoon and Emu Park, and then bused back after their days off to live in the camps again, where they go to work. You have in Blackwater empty shops and fewer apprenticeships for kids coming out of school.

Has anyone ever thought that not everyone wants to live on the coast? Quite a few people like to live out west in the country towns. Now anyone who knows me will say... well here he is talking like that and he lives in the coast. Well I would like to remind those that I lived in Blackwater for 28 years and ran with contract signage for another 12 years. I also invested about $400,000 in the town and still do have real estate in the town that I do not wish to see die.

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Take the Workers' Club that has over the years supplied many people with jobs including my wife. When you build camps and take people out of the town to put into these camps (I am told by a govt official that the companies get a fringe benefit tax for each worker they have housed in the camps), you are taking patronage for these clubs, jobs, plus support for many of the junior and senior sports in town.

Since the push on building camps on the doorstep of the towns and not only Blackwater... it is all the way through the Bowen Basin... you will notice ads in the paper for contract, fitters, boilermakers, superintendents, managers and the like. Also I saw an ad the other day where they want contract weekend fitters, boilermakers, coal preparation plant operators. These people would not be FIFO, they would be DIDO out to these mines and we will have again more deaths from people being tired driving home after their 12-hour shifts. Some responsible companies would supply transport, but cost would come into this.

What we need is for the State Government and the local councils to stop the camp building and bring people back into the towns. There would be families that will live in the towns if the job that their partner acquires allows them to get a house. The latest I heard was that some or all of the house leases the Curragh Coal mine is handing back to the government will go to house refugees. Can anyone shine a light on this and if it is so, where are the jobs going to come from, when you have so many unemployed already walking the streets, and probably most of the refugees will have no skills that are required in the mining game?

If you buy the Morning Bulletin you will have read recently all the "Top Brass” having their say to do with the Adani Coal Mine that is supposedly going ahead 160km north of Clermont. Michelle Landry, Federal MP, Mayor Strelow, Rockhampton, Bill Ludwig (Bill is doing a good job on the coast ) and now Kilpatrick "the home builder”, all trying to drag the workers for the mine to the coast so they can knock up a few brownie points. Do any of these people give two bob for the inducement of life to the western towns that are closer to Adani than these towns on the coast are? Some of these towns are only two/three hours from the mine. Adani is about the only mine in the Central Bowen Basin that can hold its head up high and say "yes we have to have a camp because we are too far from the closest town, which is Clermont”.

As for the State Government and the local councils who are allowing mines to be built with camps in close proximity to towns, then you who are affected by these poor decisions should take only one action and that is to kick these people out of these government and local council positions.

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