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Queensland will close its borders to interstate fly in-fly out mine workers from midnight Saturday unless they are deemed critical to a project’s operations.  

The changes do not affect FIFO or DIDO workers travelling from within Queensland, and interstate workers holding statutory positions, who have site safety responsibilities, are exempt.

Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the resources sector was essential to maintaining a strong Australian economy, but it was critical to move now to prevent people who may have been exposed to the virus bringing it to Queensland.

“Queensland has no known cases in our remote regional communities, and restricting these workers from entering the State will remove a possible transmission route,” he said.

“Exempting critical people will ensure that resources projects can continue to produce the mineral and energy resources we need.”

The change means interstate mine workers are no longer generally exempt from the requirement for anyone entering Queensland from any State or Territory to self-quarantine for 14 days. 

The new direction from chief health officer Jeannette Young states that “an employee of a resources sector company or service provider is only an exempt person if they are a critical resources sector employee”.

The Queensland Resources Council said those deemed critical included a person that:

  • is required to be appointed under the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999; the Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act 1999; or the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004 and the position is mentioned in the list published on the Queensland Health website; or
  • has been approved by the Chief Health Officer as a critical resources sector employee
“Queensland’s resources sector will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure the safety of local communities and our staff,” QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said.

Interstate mine workers to be locked out within days

Call to house affected workers locally

The CFMEU is urging companies to make arrangements for mineworkers affected by the Queensland Government’s interstate FIFO ban to move locally if they wish. 

“We accept that the Queensland Government’s decision today to remove the exemption for interstate FIFO workers from the state’s travel ban was made in support of community safety,” CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland President Stephen Smyth said. 

“Now, mining companies must act urgently to offer affected workers appropriate housing near their worksites in regional Queensland, on a voluntary basis.

“Mining companies must cover relocation and housing costs whether the worker is permanent or labour hire. 

“We understand these arrangements would put a strain on families, but we believe it’s an appropriate temporary measure to support workers and address concerns of host mining communities at this time.” 

Dr Lynham said most of Queensland’s resources companies had already stepped up their procedures in response to the pandemic.

“Government has been working with industry for some time on protective measures,” he said.

“All resources projects in Queensland are providing a COVID plan for their interstate workers to Queensland Health, and have been requested to prepare plans for their intrastate workers.”

The Chief Health Officer has already sought extra precautions in camps and those on the move, whether FIFO or DIDO.