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Mining cities unite

Saturday, 16th March, 2019

(From left) Isaac Regional Council’s deputy mayor Kelly Vea Vea, Mount Isa mayor Joyce McCulloch, Broken Hill mayor Darriea Turley and Kalgoorlie-Boulder mayor John Bowler after the mining alliance meeting. PICTURE: Emily McInerney (From left) Isaac Regional Council’s deputy mayor Kelly Vea Vea, Mount Isa mayor Joyce McCulloch, Broken Hill mayor Darriea Turley and Kalgoorlie-Boulder mayor John Bowler after the mining alliance meeting. PICTURE: Emily McInerney

By Emily McInerney

The mayors of several mining towns met in Broken Hill to discuss a number of issues including fly-in, fly-out workers, mining life and modernisation.

The Australian Mining Cities Alliance held their meeting at the Civic Centre yesterday with the mayors of Mount Isa and Kalgoorlie-Boulder in attendance.

The alliance also welcomed the Isaac Regional Council into the fold, as their deputy mayor Kelly Vea Vea represented the council at the meeting.

Kalgoorlie-Boulder mayor and alliance chair John Bowler said Isaac Regional Council were the first new members since they formed in 2017.

“The main problem faced by Isaac Council is fly-in, fly-out (FIFO),” Mayor Bowler said.

“But they have done more to combat FIFO and we could learn a lot from them.

“We can learn from each other. There is strength in unity.”

Mayor Bowler said they were also looking at introducing a fifth member.

In 2017, the mayors of the mining towns of Mount Isa, Kalgoorlie-Boulder and Broken Hill formally launched the Alliance.

The Alliance is an initiative aimed at making sure Australia’s mining cities have a collective voice and to maximise cooperation with Australia’s mining industry which underpins the economies of so many communities across Australia, especially in rural and remote areas.

Mayor Bowler said each council offered knowledge around a specific resource.

“We all have different commodities; coal, copper, gold/nickel and zinc, lead and silver.

“We are all part of the Australian resources export industry.

“Our common enemy is FIFO, Isaac are already a step ahead and we can learn from them.”

Broken Hill mayor Darriea Turley said they also discussed ways to ensure the best outcomes for each community.

“When we meet it’s like we have found old friends, we have similar conversations about similar experiences.”

Deputy Mayor Vea Vea said the Queensland government recently introduced the Strong and Sustainable Resource Communities Bill.

“Regional mining communities and mining unions have been lobbying for this legislation.

“They wanted controls to be introduced on a company’s FIFO workforce.

“It has been a long battle.

“It’s been great to speak with other councils and be in consultation with them.”

Deputy Mayor Vea Vea said the Queensland government changed the disability act so companies could no longer discriminate against potential employees.

“Some mining companies have a policy to only employee FIFO workers and that has now changed in Queensland.

“There is equal opportunity to apply for jobs in the resource sector.

“It is thought that where communities were producing the resources would be a natural fit for employees but that hasn’t been the case.”

Mayor Bowler said that has also been the experience in his council.

“The alliance helps us live and learn from each other, this is something we can take back to all our governments.”

Mayor Turley said they met with local mining companies who said they would invest in a residential workforce.

“Those who do have FIFO have said they won’t have camps, which are shown to be a disaster for rural towns.”

Mayor Bowler said being in Broken Hill was like being back in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

“There are many things Broken Hill is doing better than us, we can learn from that.

“The main street is so vibrant.”

Mount Isa mayor Joyce McCulloch said as well as mining expertise, they were able to take away different changes around the town.

“The modernising of the town, the smart bins really caught our eye and that is something we can take back.

“In Mount Isa, the life of the mine is a big question. Our mines have an expiry date.

“Our precious resource is copper and we have to drive economic development diversification to get the community ready.

“The whole world is facing this issue.”

Mayor McCulloch said having the alliance provided community voices which governments were inclined to listen to over the industry.

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