Mines minister's views on 100% FIFO unclear

THE community push for the state to back down on allowing mines to recruit entirely from out-of-town is being described as "insidious" by state mines minister Andrew Cripps.

It appears Mr Cripps has forgotten comments he made in late 2012 when he publicly opposed the 100% fly-in, fly-out arrangements now in place at Moranbah's Daunia and Caval Ridge coal mines

The initial deal agreed to by the former Labor Government came at a time when the industry was booming and struggling to find skilled workers.

As he attacked Opposition counterpart Jo-Ann Miller for comparing mining accommodation to concentration camps, Mr Cripps told Parliament the campaign against 100% FIFO was being driven by mining unions.

"This is the real and insidious political and industrial campaign that lies just underneath the surface of the ridiculous and offensive comments made by (Mrs Miller)," Mr Cripps said.

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney added to the attack, saying the fight was "more about union power and union domination than it is about country towns or mining towns".

Mr Cripps held a different view when he wrote to the Local Government Association of Queensland in September 2012.

Special report: A look at the lives of two FIFO families

In correspondence viewed by APN, Mr Cripps said the government "has made clear its policy of not supporting 100% FIFO mining operation workforces".

"This government believes that Queenslanders should have a choice about where they live and work."

While in Opposition, LNP member for Mirani Ted Malone even launched a petition against the practice, garnering more than 3000 signatures.

At the time he said, "Along with all those who've signed the petition, I totally reject the imposition of 100 per cent FIFO".

Less than eight months after Mr Cripps' comments to the LGAQ, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney announced BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance would recruit 900 workers for the Central Queensland mines exclusively from Cairns and south-east Queensland.

Any would-be applicant living outside those areas was forced to relocate if they were to be considered.

Isaac Regional Mayor Anne Baker, whose area includes Moranbah, said after 8000 Queensland mining jobs had been lost, regional Queenslanders were still being forced to leave town to find work.

When asked his current view of 100% FIFO arrangements, Mr Cripps declined to answer the question directly, saying "resource workers should have a choice where they live and work".

He said the government's work with communities to help them benefit from the resources industry would continue.