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Monday, 19 October 2015
Page: 11494


Ms LANDRY (Capricornia) (10:23): I second the motion. In Central Queensland there is an alarming issue at foot of which every MP should take serious note. As my colleague the member for Dawson has noted, workers living in the Capricornia coal belt, our nation's biggest coal production area, are being shut out of local jobs because of where they live. The blame lies fairly and squarely with the Australian Labor Party, backed by the powerful CFMEU. In Queensland, the Labor Party introduced a policy of allowing 100 per cent fly-in fly-out workers on two critical coalmines in Capricornia. Job advertisements for 100 per cent FIFO positions declare that applicants must live within 100 kilometres of Brisbane Airport or Cairns in order to obtain work west of Rockhampton and Mackay. That means any local worker trying to support their family at Moranbah, Dysart, Nebo and other Capricornia towns are not allowed to apply for jobs there, even though the mine may be as little as 15 minutes drive up the road.

This Labor Party law smacks of discrimination. It has the hallmarks of an apartheid system based on the postcode of where you live. If apartheid rules were not good enough for South Africa then they cannot be good enough for Central Queensland workers. Labor's policy means we have suitable, skilled people living next door to a worksite who are outlawed from applying for a job there. The impact of Labor's 100 per cent FIFO rule is hurting the survival of our local towns. If people cannot get work and live in local communities, they simply leave. The consequence is that small business suffers, schools lose resources and other community services begin to dwindle. In short, our small mining towns are dying. The bill that we as LNP MPs present to the House today will help these communities.

Our bill aims to amend the Fair Work Act, prohibiting discrimination based on the location of your home. We support the motion to amend the Fair Work Act 2009 with amendment 351A, titled 'Discrimination based where a person lives'. It states:

An employer must not take adverse action against a person who is an employee, or prospective employee … because of where the person lives.

Last week the Queensland Labor government ended its inquiry into the 100 per cent FIFO policy. Queensland Labor is a state government that does not want to man up to the fact that it was Queensland Labor that introduced this despicable law in the first place under former premier Anna Bligh. The recent inquiry was led by union activist and MP Jim Pearce and overseen by several Labor Party mayors in Central Queensland. It suggested that 100 per cent FIFO is not accepted by anyone in regional Queensland. But they cannot unwind the mess their own party created because it is enshrined in contract legalities.

Ironically, the Queensland review recommended changing the antidiscrimination act so mining companies cannot refuse to employ workers based on where they live. It is ironic because I told the CFMEU and Jim Pearce that that is what the federal representatives were already actively seeking to do. When I spoke at a community forum on jobs and the impact of 100 per cent FIFO on Mackay, hosted by the CFMEU and Jim Pearce, I told them that I and the member for Dawson were already drawing up such a bill. Our bill today aims to make it illegal for companies to lock people out of jobs based on their home location. This bold private member's bill seeks to amend the nation's Fair Work Act 2009 to prohibit discrimination against workers based on where they live. This bill's intention is to ensure that Central Queenslanders can apply for Central Queensland jobs in our coalmining sector without discrimination.

I commend the bill to the House and I urge this parliament to stand up for what is right to safeguard families, small business, services and a person's right to at least apply for local jobs in our inland regional coal towns.

Debate adjourned.