Who will be the next victims of the mining boom?
Jun 05, 2012
A protest sign outside a BMA picket in the Bowen Basin, Queensland.
Following the Federal Government's controversial decision to approve an EMA for Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill project in Western Australia two weeks ago, Chris Harper an AMWU delegate and longtime maintenace worker in the Queensland mines, wrote this impassioned letter to the AMWU.
As a maintenance worker in the coal industry for over 30 years, it is so bewildering to see some of the recent decisions made at a Federal and State Government level. It begs the question as to who will be the next casualty in the resources boom?
Already we have seen many victims. Workers forced to live in dongas away from families because of prohibitive rental and housing costs. The push for so called “family friendly rosters” that only benefit the resource companies. The closure of many small businesses in mining towns. The lack of improved infrastructure, roads, sewerage and electricity. The fragmentation of the communities when resource companies just sees them as a transit centre for the FIFO workforce. Even worse, the breakdown of the family unit including FIFO worker families.
The State and Federal Government from both sides of the political spectrum have allowed all these things to happen. Don’t worry there will be more they just haven’t told us yet. Where is the balance so that benefits flow onto the communities? It is nowhere except on the balance sheet of the resources companies with the likes of the BMAs, the Gina Rineharts and Clive Palmers of the world believing it’s their resources not Australian resources.
We read and see every day where manufacturing and construction companies are closing due to loss of contracts or no work because it is cheaper to flat pack it in from overseas or it is cheaper to use foreigner workers on 457 Visas to the detriment of Australian workers. In a different day in the early 1970’s the then Premier of Queensland had the balls to make the mining companies to build towns and communities, which created employment and service industries.
After hearing of the approval of the latest Galilee Project and its impending commencement, I look into the crystal ball and wonder what benefits will come to the towns and communities in the Alpha region. Will Australian workers construct the mine with Australian made components and will it be manned by Australian workers when up and running? I don’t know. All I see are dark and murky clouds with the shadows of the mining companies rubbing their hands together with glee again after another win, billions more in their coffers with minimal expenditure and commitments to another region. Time will tell.
Secretary AMWU Queensland Coal Shop Stewards
Contact Email: news(at)amwu.asn.au