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Qld ALP's minor backflip on major mining policy causes confusion

05 February, 2015

The final outcome of the state's election on the verge of being decided, Queensland's Labor party has managed to slightly fumble one of its key mining policies by doing a backflip on a backflip – all in less than 24 hours.

The political bungle occurred following ALP frontbencher Jackie Trad's declaration on public radio on Wednesday morning that the party's plan to review 100 per cent fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workforces would not be "retrospective", and would only apply to new projects. She added a retrospective approach would result in "chaos".

However in the lead up to the election, ALP leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said one of the party's key policy mandates was that the practice would end and existing sites using a 100 per cent FIFO workforce be reviewed.

When pulled up about the inconsistency on Wednesday evening, Trad's office responded with a statement saying: "No changes to Labor's FIFO policy. 100 per cent FIFO mines near regional towns will be reviewed. We want locals to be able to work in local mines."

Qld ALP's Jackie Trad (left) has caused confusion with a recent statement.

No hostility, please: industry

Queensland Resources Council boss Michael Roche said the state's coal miners were keeping their fingers crossed an incoming government would not introduce any "hostile" policies which would lead to operational shutdown at many sites.

Roche said many mines were running at a loss, and for mining companies' head offices – many of which were based overseas – any policy uncertainty seen to complicate operations would be the last straw.

"Some miners have put to me that if there was to be unexpected negative moves by a new government, they may find that head office decides that they should opt for the certainty of the cost of a shutdown, rather than the uncertainty of staying in operation," Roche said.

"At the moment it is very hard for (the miners) to convince head office to tip in capital, or essentially to under-write their losses. So the last thing we need are policy changes that tip the balance on the preparedness of the resource company head offices to keep tipping in the capital to sustain these operations."

Critical negotiations

Certainty on FIFO policy is currently critical for the ALP as negotiations begin to enlist the support of key crossbenchers in order to form government. Katter's Australian MPs have backed any plans to curb FIFO sites, with Bob Katter saying they were "crippling" regional centres.

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