Kelly Butterworth

Boss 'made best decision at time' approving 100% FIFO mines

STATE development staff involved in approving fly-in, fly-out mines have rejected claims that things "went wrong" in giving the green light to 100% FIFO mines.

They also said their boss made the best decision he could when allowing 100% FIFO mines to operate, based on information available at the time.

A public hearing was held at Queensland Parliament on Wednesday as a parliamentary committee inquiry into FIFO workforces continued.

Committee members were able to grill state development department staff members on the controversial topic.

The committee heard Daunia and Caval Ridge mines were approved in 2009 and 2010 respectively as having a 70% capped FIFO workforce.

In 2011 BMA applied for the 70% FIFO cap to be removed, and this was approved.

Dalrymple MP Shane Knuth said there was "a hell of a lot of concern" about how 70% FIFO workforces were too high.

"And then it jumped to 100%," he said. "So what went wrong and why weren't those communities taken into consideration?"

In response, the co-ordinator general's office director Matthew Grant said: "I wouldn't say that anything went wrong, but some members of the community would hold that perception".

He said feedback about the 70% FIFO cap was "fairly measured" and that labour availability tightened during 2010 and 2011.

When talking about how all submissions were considered, including those who opposed large FIFO workforces, Mr Grant said some points raised from the community could be false.

He referred to a Brisbane traffic tunnel proposal where local residents complained it would affect air quality, which later proved to be untrue.

"It's not uncommon to receive public submissions expressing their heartfelt concerns, which are taken on board and in many cases acted upon, but for the actual project not to deliver those feared consequences… it can be a technical and professional judgement and in the case of FIFO situations there are less science behind it."

State development group acting deputy director general Matthew Andrew said it was difficult to predict the future.

"The best analysis in the world is never a future fact waiting to happen," he said.

"I think the co-ordinator general made the best decision they could make on the information they had available at the time."

But he said they would be keen to learn any lessons from it.

The committee has until September 30 to report back to Parliament.

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