Thursday, June 07, 2012
FIFO & decentralisation – the irony of it all
It’s ironic, really. First we discourage people from going to the country, then we complain when they won’t come!
We began by centralising services in the name of efficiency, progressively withdrawing them from country areas. We introduced new codes and rules designed to improve standards and reduce consumer risks, increasing costs so that many activities including land development and trades became uneconomic in smaller country marketplaces.
When country people complained, sought effective decentralisation, they received little sympathy. It was just a fact of life, they were told. Band aids were applied, but little more.
Now when we really need people to move to regional areas to support the mining boom, no one is prepared to go. BHP Billiton and the other major miners comment on the remarkable immobility of
’s generally city based work force. It’s really a case of what if we had a boom and nobody came! Australia
It is frankly absurd that we have to fly workers across a continent and back to ensure that the mines keep going. It is equally absurd, tragic in fact, that the process should rip the guts out of local activities that survived “restructuring” because of the impact on local rents and wage costs.
None of this need have happened, or at least not to the same extent. Bluntly, a lot of what happened was foreseeable. It’s not just that we have been there before. Importantly, the lead times involved in the changes taking place mean that many elements were foreseeable.
In a way, the WA National Party was just too late. If it had been successful three years earlier, the extra time would have allowed proper ramp up of activities in advance of the mining avalanche. Still, they are making progress.
I do wonder how different things might have been in the east if Capricornia or
New England had achieved statehood.