PRESS RELEASE: Workers Accommodation, Lockyer Gas Project impacting regional liveability

The Shire of Mingenew is urging the State Government to consider economic and social well-being outcomes for impacted communities for development applications with workers’ accommodation which are proposed to not support regional communities.

Shire President Mr Gary Cosgrove calls on the Minister for Planning John Carey to ensure that the Government’s Planning Policies, Strategies and Position Statements regarding workforce
accommodation are upheld to demonstrate the State Government’s ongoing commitment to supporting regional communities when assessing the Lockyer Gas Projects application to construct a permanent 24 bedroom onsite workforce accommodation camp, equipped with meal lounge, recreation building, gym, vegetable garden and playing fields.

The $850M Lockyer Gas Project proposal, located only 17 km from Mingenew will be determined by the State Government through the State Development Assessment Unit resulting in the local Council having very limited to no role in setting permissibility, design standards or have any significant influence over decision makers to impact outcomes for its local community.

The WA Planning Commission’s policy on workers accommodation states, “Where practicable, workforce accommodation should be provided in established towns, in locations suitable to its context, to facilitate their ongoing sustainability. Planning and development of workforce accommodation should be consistent with local planning strategies and schemes, except where the Mining Act 1978 and State Agreement Acts prevail.

The Shire’s position is that these factors should still apply, with responsibility on the resource sector to demonstrate through a social impact assessment their proposed solution, location and where not feasible or practicable, alternate local investment strategies presented.

The Shire acknowledges the importance and benefits of the resource sector to the State’s economy but there must be positive negotiable outcomes to improve and promote the attractiveness of regional living, contributing to boosting local economies.

The WA Planning Commission’s State Planning Strategy 2050 itself recognises the need to improving regional liveability through “housing affordability, investment in infrastructure, including multi-use infrastructure, creating attractive places and the delivery of key services will enable a level of liveability that retains families, as well as attracting and growing a regional workforce”. This will have a flow on effect for workforces and skill development in the regions and reduce labour costs to resource companies who are having to attract and retain their workforce from overseas or interstate.

The Parliamentary enquiry into FIFO practices by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Australia notes: “…the (FIFO) work practice is eroding the liveability of some regional communities to such an extent that it is increasingly removing the choice to ‘live-in’ rather than simply ‘cash-in’ and Policy makers must develop a policy mix that ensures the FIFO/DIDO (Drive-In Drive-Out) work practice does not become the dominant practice, as it could lead to a hollowing out of established regional towns, particularly those inland”. The Lockyer Gas Project indicates a sizable long-term workforce.

The Town of Mingenew would greatly benefit from having workers and their families permanently located in town.

Matt Fanning
Chief Executive Officer

22 June 2024