Truss offers no promise on FIFO employment deals

IN THE face of three Central Queensland mayors, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss has promised no action on current fly-in, fly-out arrangements, opting instead to wait for more information.

On a two-day visit to Canberra this week, Isaac Mayor Anne Baker, Mackay Mayor Deirdre Comerford and Whitsunday Mayor Jennifer Whitney bounced from office to office spruiking on behalf of their regions.

The three areas are part of the Whitsunday Regional Organisation of Councils, an alliance between the three areas that allows them to lobby as one.

With the help of Dawson MP George Christensen, they visited departments of Industry, Small Business, Trade and Investment, Treasury and Infrastructure and Regional Development.

In that final sit-down, they met with Mr Truss.

He is the one who must co-ordinate a government response to 237 pages of an investigation into FIFO and 21 recommendations that go with it.

FIFO deals are under scrutiny after multinational miner BHP Billiton banned local workers from applying for jobs at two major coal mines in Central Queensland.

Only those willing to fly from Cairns or south-east Queensland were considered.

According to Cr Baker, Mr Truss said the government would make its FIFO response a priority.

"We were told that the government has 162 outstanding reports from the previous government to consider, so it is significant that the Deputy PM is treating the FIFO issue seriously," she said.

Cr Comerford said a response was needed when the inquiry was first tabled in February last year, under the former government.

"I'm grateful that the Coalition Government is doing that now."

She said Mr Truss's decision to wait for a full government response was "appropriate".

Mr Christensen has been vocal about his opposition to FIFO arrangements, describing them as "geographic discrimination" which ought to be illegal.

The Queensland Government is supportive of BHP Billiton's recruitment policy.

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