Today's draft report by the Productivity Commission underscores the economic contribution of the minerals industry's Fly-in Fly-out workforce debunking once and for all the claim that FIFO is a "cancer of the bush".

Far from being a "cancer", the Productivity Commission has concluded that FIFO has been "instrumental" in "spreading the benefits of the boom across the economy"; has "enabled wealth to be more widely distributed across the country"; and has "dulled the boom–bust cycle that mining towns might otherwise experience".

The Commission's report into geographic labour mobility particularly noted the opportunities FIFO has afforded Indigenous communities that suffered high levels of unemployment "before the opportunity to undertake FIFO work arose".

It is also pleasing to see the resource sector's commitment to the wellbeing of its FIFO workforce acknowledged. The Commission's report points to "strategies to promote wellbeing and mitigate any negative effects of FIFO on workers and their families, such as induction programs, employee assistance programs, chaplaincy services for family members and the facilitation of networks for family members".

The Commission notes that FIFO practices are also used widely in the services sector – particularly to provide police and health services to remote communities – and together with temporary migration schemes, including 457 visas, have been "critical to meeting labour demand in many parts of the country."

While only 3 per cent of the minerals industry work force is engaged on 457 visas, the MCA warmly welcomes the Commission's draft finding that "the increase in long-distance commuting and temporary immigration has been particularly important, and should not be impeded by excessive regulation."

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