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Monday, 29 October 2012
Page: 12166

Mr WINDSOR (New England) (10:10): by leave—On behalf of the Standing Committee on Regional Australia, I wish to make a statement on the committee's visit to Canada and Mongolia as part of our inquiry into the use of fly-in fly-out workforce practices in regional Australia. This statement specifically concerns the committee's visit to Canada and Mongolia undertaken as part of the annual parliamentary delegation visit to the Asia-Pacific region. The document that I will seek leave to table shall not be considered a delegation report but rather a statement of the reasons for travel and the program of meetings undertaken. I know my colleagues the member for Capricornia and the member for Riverina wish to speak on the delegation in the Federation Chamber, and the committee will report on the findings of the delegation in its inquiry report, which I intend to table early next year.

The Regional Australia Committee is conducting an exhaustive inquiry into the use of FIFO and DIDO—fly-in fly-out and drive-in drive-out—working practices. The committee felt that it needed to undertake wider research on the issue to get more ideas about what solutions could be put in place to support and build our regional communities. In Canada, the committee visited St Johns, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Edmonton and Fort McMurray in Alberta. I am grateful to the many local officials and industry groups who generously gave their time and knowledge to the delegation. While there is much to learn from Canada—and the committee spent quite a lot of time talking with many people who were experiencing very similar situations to some parts of Australia—the Canadians are very much looking at us as well to learn from our fly-in fly-out experience. Perhaps most tellingly, in St Johns the comment was made: 'We saw what was happening in the Pilbara and resolved that we'll do everything we can to make sure that doesn't happen here.' Provincial governments across Canada are playing catch-up with the fly-in fly-out phenomenon but are leading the expectations of companies and communities to drive a local workforce focus. One of the issues that our committee will pick up on is the experience the Canadians are having in certain parts.

The Mongolian mining industry is relatively young. We had the unique experience of touring the completed Oyu Tolgoi copper mine before the switch was flipped to start operations. This large operation will need a fly-in fly-out workforce, but the company, Rio Tinto, is prioritising building the local workforce through building a local community. Again, the government is heavily involved driving a culture of local community development.

The delegation findings prove that a balance can be found between utilising a fly-in fly-out workforce and building local, sustainable communities as long as strong leadership from all levels of government is put in place. I look forward to reporting on the full findings to the House in due course.

As I have a couple of minutes left, I would very much like to thank the committee membership and the secretariat for the work they put into the trip. I would particularly like to thank all of those people we met overseas, both in private companies and in various areas of government.

In the case of Mongolia, I would like to thank Rio Tinto in particular for giving us an insight into their workings. One of the things that is becoming very plain to members on the committee is that different companies in different parts of the world are doing different things to try and address the same issue—that of regional communities and the phenomenon of fly-in fly-out and, in some circumstances, drive-in drive-out. Even though the Canadian experience and the Mongolian experience are different, there is an enormous amount for us to learn from their experiences. I thank the Australian Consul-General, David Lawson, and his people in particular. I also thank the Mongolians who have been educated in Australia—they are known as the 'Mozzies'—for giving us some great experiences in their country. I am sure that the member for Riverina would endorse my remarks, particularly those in relation to the Mongolian people and their children, for their capacity, need and want to be educated right across the spectrum. Given the announcements by the Prime Minister in the last few days, I think Mongolia should be well placed to take advantage of some of the issues she raised. I present the statement relating to the committee delegation to Canada and Mongolia. I seek leave to table it. (Time expired)

Leave granted.

Mr WINDSOR: I move:

That the House take note of the document.

The SPEAKER: Does the member for New England seek to move a motion to move this statement to the Federation Chamber?

Mr WINDSOR: I move:

That the order of the day be referred to the Federation Chamber for debate.

Question agreed to.