Gladstone Observer Article: Gladstone FIFO exodus as local workers leave

Read what GILG's CEO, Patrick Hastings, had to say to the Gladstone Observer in the article titled, "Gladstone FIFO exodus as local workers leave."

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ELECTRICIAN Damien D'Arcy learnt the hard way he was waiting in vain for Gladstone's "next big project".

The redundant, yet optimistic, Bechtel worker spent his redundancy and his life changed as pressure was put on his relationship.

>>Construction job losses as new industry to rule in Gladstone

If he was still waiting, his chances of landing a job in construction would be much thinner than what Queensland Treasury predicted just after he lost his job on December 10 last year.

Thousands of fly-in-fly-out workers were expected to flock to Gladstone for major projects but, with many delayed or in doubt, this has changed and it has forced local workers out of the region to find work.

The jobs Queensland Treasury expected eight months ago would flood the city with workers have been wiped from recent projections.

STAYING ACTIVE: Last year’s winning team from Rio Tinto Alcan Yarwun in the 10,000 Steps program – Steve Askew, Stephen Bird, Terry Cartwright and Shaun French.

STAYING ACTIVE: Last year’s winning team from Rio Tinto Alcan Yarwun in the 10,000 Steps program – Steve Askew, Stephen Bird, Terry Cartwright and Shaun French.CONTRIBUTED CHRISSY HARRIS

Mr D'Arcy moved to the region for work, bought a house and moved his family to Boyne Island.

After becoming redundant, he was scraping the bottom of the bank account and the financial pressure wore on his relationship.

He now flies in and out of Darwin for work.

"Six months. I used up all my savings, all my redundancy and all my long-service leave," he said.

"And when I started here in Darwin I had $273 in my bank account."

In January this year, Queensland Treasury predicted there would be as many as 4340 FIFO workers in June 2018.

The most recent report has that down to 1220.

The best-case scenario, C, relies on two projects, Cement Australia's East End No. 5 Mine Project and Euroa Steel Plant Projects.

In the earlier projections scenario B relied heavily on Arrow's Surat and Bowen Basin pipeline projects, but these projects have been taken off the projection in the most recent report.

An Arrow Energy spokeswoman said a time frame for the project was still up in the air, with "production challenges" and "technical" delays putting the brakes on the project.

"Further technical work is currently being undertaken to improve production from parts of the Bowen Basin that contain deeper and tighter coals than the Surat Basin," she said.

"This work has currently resulted in delays to Arrow's Bowen Project. Until this current work is completed, impacts on project schedule are not yet known."

Gladstone Industry Leadership Group chief executive officer Patrick Hastings said the dramatic revision of projections reflected the "very tough environment" which industry was operating in with a downturn that was forcing companies to delay projects.

"We need to look to innovative and cost-effective ways and new markets to ensure the sustainable growth of Gladstone," Mr Hastings said.

But Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said while a number of projects, such as the bio-fuels project and the cruise ships, had not been included on the projections, the State Government was targeting the time frame for its own projects, such as the hospital upgrade, to help fill the shortfall.

He said we needed to consider Gladstone's history of "boom and busts" to see the region was re-balancing.

"Unfortunately, a lot of people are use to a high income now and have had to go further afield to get one.

Mr Hastings also said Treasury's revised projections for Gladstone meant the city could no longer solely rely on big construction projects and needed to seize new opportunities.

"Gladstone has opportunities beyond the next big project, such as our growing tourism industry, which it should be looking to capitalise on," he said.