CQU Professor John Rolfe
CQU Professor John Rolfe

Pressure grows on overseas workers

A LEADING CQ academic has supported a controversial move to bring in overseas workers to help handle the region's resources boom.

CQUniversity Professor John Rolfe said mining companies would need to look overseas in the short to medium term to meet demand as companies reached the limit of employing skilled local workers.

The resources industry predicts it will need 40,000 extra skilled workers in the next five years if all of the projects, many in CQ, come online.

Despite government and industry attempts to upskill as many Queenslanders and Australians as possible, it's unlikely enough workers will be trained in time, forcing industry to look elsewhere.

"While many Australian miners work overseas, and sometimes commuted to overseas sites, the growth in the resources sector in Australia means there is increased pressure to bring experienced and skilled people into Australia," Prof Rolfe said.

He said the introduction of overseas workers would also help make the labour market more competitive with CQ's current workforce enjoying "pretty good conditions".

"The strike at BMA at the moment is in line with increasing industrial relation issues during the past couple of years since the move off individual contracts and the new Fair Work Act," the mining communities and regional economics expert said.

"If we get overseas workers it will increase supply into the labour market and help maintain the cost-competitiveness of firms.

"While there are larger regional benefits in relocating workers from overseas to Central Queensland, this may not be practical in the short term."

"We should allow people freedom of choice where they want to live," Prof Rolfe said.

"What we need to do is make sure the housing markets in mining and regional communities are not too expensive."

He said the Indian company, Adani, which bought Rockhampton cattle baron Graeme Acton's Moray Downs property, was talking about a 100-year lifespan for its Central Queensland mine.

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