Fly in fly out (FIFO) miners at Moranbah Airport.
Fly in fly out (FIFO) miners at Moranbah Airport.

MP slams decision to include FIFO miners in border block

FIFO workers in NSW and the ACT will be banned from flying into Queensland from 1am on Saturday, the Queensland Resources Council has confirmed.

Mirani MP Stephen Andrew has slammed the State Government's decision, saying closing the border to key mine workers would have a devastating impact on the economy.

QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said interstate FIFO miners who regularly travelled into Queensland would not be allowed to do so when the hard border closure starts at 1am Saturday.

"This will cause some issues for the resources industry in Queensland but we will work our way through it," Mr Macfarlane said.

"In terms of emergency specialist workers to deal with catastrophic failure of machinery, we're currently working through that issue with the Department of Health and with the Department of Mines and Resources.

"We need a process where expert people with special expertise can come into Queensland to fix an issue, which may be a safety issue or a production issue, where thousands of jobs are reliant on that."

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He said these essential, interstate-based workers - such as mine safety officers and highly specialised maintenance contractors - would only be able to enter Queensland once they had been appropriately quarantined and at no cost to taxpayers.

Mr Andrew said blocking interstate FIFO mine workers would be a "massive blow" to the industry.

Mirani MP Stephen Andrew.
Mirani MP Stephen Andrew.

"The mining industry is heavily reliant on FIFO workers and if hundreds of these workers are to be barred from entering Queensland, it is going to make it very difficult for some of them to operate," he said.

"That's why I'm calling on the Premier to immediately issue an exemption for FIFO mine workers or risk doing enormous damage to the sector - a sector that has contributed huge amounts of money in royalties to the Queensland Treasury over recent years."

Mr Macfarlane said QRC had accepted all conditions laid down by the chief health officer.

"It's an extra cost but it's something we'll just manage," he said.

"It's part of ensuring the industry keeps operating and keeps employing the 372,000 people that are employed in the resources sector."

Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert said she recognised the impact the decision would have on FIFO workers.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane. Picture: Jerad Williams
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane. Picture: Jerad Williams

"People have been feeling very uncomfortable with the number of cases rising down south and the number of people being dishonest," Mrs Gilbert said.

"The Premier is going to review the situation at the end of the month."

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Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker said protecting the health and welfare of communities was her first priority.

"As Mayor of Isaac Regional Council, I am on record as saying we do not support exemptions being given to the mining sector for workers from COVID-19 hot spots," she said.

"So far, we have been spared any cases of COVID-19 in our region, despite the risks posed by interstate travel, and we want to keep it that way."