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  • FIFO? Dongas, Domesticity & Duck Sushi

    22-Mar-2013

    In response to the continuing debate regarding FIFO I would like to draw upon my own experience as a DIDO worker (oh, how I wished I could fly instead!).  I spent most of last year driving between my work base in Rockhampton and the sites across Moranbah where we operated.  I loved Moranbah, I was always made to feel welcome by its residents and it undoubtedly has the best duck sushi I’ve ever eaten, but would I want to live there permanently?

    Moranbah was created specifically to house mine workers.  The downside of this population diversity is the cost of non-mine owned accommodation.  It's getting beyond the reach of average workers and even beyond some business owners and their families.  Newish four bedroom houses are renting for $2000 a week (the only one advertised).  If you want to buy a place, you’re looking at an average price of $595,000 (realestate.com), with many properties priced well above that.  Even if you have that sort of money to buy or rent, you'll need to be quick because properties move very fast.

    The health and education sectors are well represented, but with the population rapidly increasing there can be a long wait to get into childcare or to see a medical practitioner.  A report released by the Moranbah Medical Centre details how they are stretched to the limit already; Moranbah’s current GP workforce numbers 4 and the doctor patient ratio is estimated to be around 1:2 750 – an unsustainable and unsafe level for doctors and patients alike.  This is in light of their own figures which show only 22.7% are non-resident patients, a figure that means that even if they were taken out of the equation the doctor patient ratio would still exceed the recommended District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) status which is set at 1:1 400.

    Education services include two primary schools and a high school, C & K Moranbah, Moranbah Community Kindergarten and Simply Sunshine. All of these centres are heavily subsidised by mining companies in the area.

    Moranbah probably boasts some of the best facilities of any mining town in CQ, again, heavily subsidised and in some cases only existing because of mining companies.  The town also has a great range of community events including the annual rodeo, May Day, mine picnics and monthly markets, you guessed it, heavily subsidised by mining companies.  So why would I not live there? 

    It’s simple really, I CHOOSE not to.  The choice of workers seems to be continually lost in this debate and so many times the mining companies are seen as ogres forcing workers into FIFO arrangements.  By living in Rockhampton and travelling out to Moranbah for the duration of my work roster I can live in my own lovely home where the mortgage repayment isn’t crippling, I can catch up with friends, visit a medical specialist without months of prior planning and drop into the university library while I continue my studies and enjoy the duck sushi of Moranbah when I’m there.  My friends that have families are happier not to uproot their kids from their schools for the sake of short term contracts (the nature of the beast).

    Remember, FIFO is not a losing proposition; instead it seems to me, those that participate in it, chose it.