The Nationals WA have voiced concern that Pilbara towns are at risk of reverting back to dusty fly-in, fly-out outposts under the McGowan Labor Government.
Deputy Leader Jacqui Boydell said despite The Nationals’ record investment in the region via the Pilbara Cities initiative, FIFO camps were now “sprouting like weeds across the Pilbara” because of Labor’s ambivalence.
“During The Nationals’ time in Government the major companies were left in no doubt about our stance on FIFO camps,” Ms Boydell said.
“The Nationals have a long-standing party position that FIFO camps should not be located within 60km of a major regional centre.
“We fought the companies on a daily basis because we believe that true regional development does not involve herding workers into camps on the edge of town where they are separated from the community.
“Yet under Mark McGowan and Labor, more than 1200 new FIFO beds will be brought on in Karratha and Dampier alone.
“Meanwhile in Newman, the Premier has allowed BHP to continue operating Kurra Village despite the camp being slated to close at the end of 2016. There’s still no end in sight.”
Ms Boydell said the silence from Pilbara MP Kevin Michel on the proliferation of FIFO camps in his own backyard had been deafening.
She said The Nationals’ prime concern was Woodside’s 700-bed Bay Village camp, which the City of Karratha and community have repeatedly voiced its disdain over.
“Here you have a camp on the fringe of town with a raft of two-storey modular accommodation buildings – essentially hundreds of shipping containers stacked on top of one another – sprinkled amongst in-situ buildings,” Ms Boydell said.
“Karratha is going to have the equivalent of the population of Onslow living in a small area that’s not within walking distance of the town centre. The camp will have an on-site gym and cafeteria.
“Worse still, Woodside has provided no evidence to demonstrate that these extra FIFO beds are needed on top of what is currently available at existing accommodation providers. The company also has more than 100 houses in Karratha sitting empty.”
Ms Boydell said the McGowan Government had been “captured” by Woodside.
“The Premier has implied the new beds would be used for expansion projects, including Pluto, the upgrade of the Karratha Gas Plant and future processing of Browse and Scarborough gas,” Ms Boydell said.
“While The Nationals are fully supportive of any future expansion works Woodside has in the pipeline we are concerned that the Bay Village camp is born more out of convenience than necessity.
“Woodside has so far made no commitment to Scarborough or Browse yet have made a firm commitment to more FIFO for Karratha.”