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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 332 asked in the Legislative Council on 9 April 2019 by Hon Jacqui Boydell

Parliament: 40 Session: 1

Answered on

BHP — DRIVE IN, DRIVE OUT WORKFORCE — PILBARA

332. Hon JACQUI BOYDELL to the Minister for Regional Development:

I refer to BHP's announcement yesterday that it intends to offer a drive in, drive out option for more workers at mines near Newman, but with the caveat that the company had ''no target number'', and insisted that the program would be voluntary and organic.

(1) Given that fly in, fly out work is generally accepted as detrimental to regional development, will the minister push BHP to set a firm target for a larger residential workforce in Newman?

(2) Is the minister seeking a meeting with BHP to understand the time lines associated with the announcement?

(3) How will the government work with BHP to ensure that it maintains a commitment to that announcement?

Hon ALANNAH MacTIERNAN replied:

I thank the member for the question.

(1)–(3) I was in fact just reading the housing snapshot for the Pilbara this morning, and I am pleased to say that it looks like housing and population stats in the Pilbara are improving. Since we have been in government, we have seen an increase in the median house price, which is a very clear indication that people are moving back into the Pilbara. Of course, getting the balance right between FIFO and residential development and activity is very important, and we are in frequent dialogue with all the companies about getting that balance right. I can assure the member that we will continue to have dialogue with those companies, ensuring that we do what we can to develop opportunities in those communities. As the member will be well aware—from the other statements she has made and has been calling for, like creating a special economic zone and bringing people in from overseas to that special economic zone—there is a challenge in attracting people to the region. If we are going to provide the opportunity for those mines to be expanded for the benefit of us all—mines that underpin people who live in the city, including the member—we will need to have those mining operations. We will absolutely be talking to BHP and all other companies about making sure that we get that balance right.

The member will be very pleased to know that this morning I was up in the Pilbara, in Karratha, handing out regional economic development grants, which are all about developing diversification within the industries of the Pilbara. I think around nine businesses were recipients of those regional economic development grants, which will absolutely help drive employment and opportunity in the Pilbara.