CME welcomes the WA Government’s relaxation of State borders

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia (CME) welcomes today’s announcement by the McGowan Government of quarantine-free travel into the State from Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT from November 14.

CME Chief Executive Paul Everingham said the move would help alleviate mental health and wellbeing issues for interstate FIFO workers, who have spent months away from their homes and families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said it would also allow mining and resources sector operators improved opportunities to address current and future workforce needs.

Modelling in August predicted the sector in WA would need an additional 8000 skilled workers over the following 12-18 months to meet peak demand for the current $129 billion worth of projects in the pipeline, with some of those roles being specialist positions that could not be sourced from within the State.

“CME and its members are very welcoming of this announcement today by the WA Government,” Mr Everingham said.

“We have worked closely with the WA Government throughout the pandemic on quarantine, screening protocols and FIFO DETECT. This collaboration has allowed the mining and resources sector to continue operating safely during a very difficult period, powering the local, State and Federal economies.

“With no community transmission of COVID-19 in Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the ACT, we support the Premier’s decision to open WA’s borders to those states and territories.

“I’d like to thank our interstate FIFO workers, who have done it tough over the past seven-to-eight months. We have been working with both levels of government to explore ways these workers can safely return home and then come back to WA to resume their work. We’re delighted this will be possible in time for Christmas and the holiday break.

“Today’s announcement will also be music to the ears for workers looking relocate to WA permanently as it will enable them to return home to get affairs in order and it will reduce complexity and cost of relocating families. A large number of employees relocated to WA for work throughout the crisis and many others are considering making this change.

“For our members, this is a boost to the mental health and wellbeing of their workers and also allows them to plan with certainty for the workforce they will need for the years ahead.

“We look forward to continuing to work in collaboration with our members and the WA Government for a future relaxation of travel to and from New South Wales and Victoria when it is deemed safe to do so.”

CME estimates 60 per cent of the sector’s current interstate FIFO workforce comes from Queensland. Much of the remainder hail from New South Wales and Victoria.

This month’s State Budget revealed the mining and resources sector contributed $9.29 billion in onshore royalties and offshore North West Shelf Grants in 2019-20, accounting for 28 per cent of all WA Government revenue.