No excuses from political leaders

Isaac Regional Council Mayor Cedric Marshall.
Isaac Regional Council Mayor Cedric Marshall.

STATE political leaders will have no excuse if they ignore mining community concerns after a series of top level meetings in Brisbane this afternoon.

Isaac Regional Council’s Adaptive Communities initiative could become the blueprint for other resource towns after Mayor Cedric Marshall meets with Deputy Premier Paul Lucas and Opposition Leader Jeff Seeney.

“It is the first time in 40 years that a government at any level has asked the community how they want growth within their towns to occur,” Cr Marshall said.

“This is not just an important step for our region, this is a groundbreaking step for the country.”

The Adaptive Communities process is one of the most extensive community consultation programs undertaken in Queensland’s history and the response from the region’s residents has contributed to the design Cr Marshall will take to Brisbane.

Residents and interested parties were asked to consider conceptual designs for future non-resident workers’ accommodation in an attempt for the council to strike a balance between the resource industry and the town’s economic viability.

“Mining is the backbone of the state economy (and) we need to find a middle ground between sustainable development and community acceptance of FIFO workers and their integration into these mining communities,” he said.

“Through the process, we have asked the community to consider how to accommodate

non-resident workers and maximise the benefits they can bring to our communities.”

Isaac residents submitted their views and opinions for the future of their region from mid-February through March, which the Regional Social Development Centre said indicated the community felt they had little choice in the past.

Isolation, disengagement, and the capacity for social problems as a result of the increasing FIFO workforce numbers were among the most common views expressed through the consultation process.

“The initiative has been conceived to ensure the community voice is heard through the correct channels and through the procedures, which the government demands,” Cr Marshall said.

The two separate meetings will hold the State Government and the Opposition accountable for ensuring the sustainability of mining communities during the unprecedented resources boom in the region.

It will develop a co-operative approach between local and state governments, which Cr Marshall said is “the key in securing a sustainable future”.

The Isaac region has the potential to pioneer the fight for a fairer balance between FIFO and permanent resident workforces, and Cr Marshall is hopeful the meetings will cast the issue out from the local government arena into the state spotlight.

“We’ll be looking for some definitive action this week,” he said.

“We are hopeful for outcomes which will push proactive responses at a state level to finally address the issues which have plagued regions such as ours for a great deal of time.”

It is understood Central Highlands Regional Council Mayor Peter Maguire will also meet with the Deputy Premier today.

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