Cities around Australia are fighting for the "right" to start or increase their "Fly-in/Fly-out" mining population.
This policy, and in fact the way mining is being done in Australia, is already proving to be a corrosive and wrong-way decision for Australian society in the future.
How so? Let's examine the mining situation here, and look at already the social and family impacts it's having on every level of Australian society.
MINING IS WORK FOR THE UNEDUCATEDIn every other country in the world, miners are paid what they're worth as unskilled labor, usually near the bottom of the wage scale. In the US, the next-highest paying country to Australia, miners are generally getting $40K-$50K per year, with a few mines paying up to $70K with overtime and bonus plans. A good wage for a dangerous job generally done by men mostly who didn't even finish secondary school.
The wage drops dramatically around the world, with Chinese miners making $2000 a year or less, and even lower in diamond and other African mines. Hey, it's unskilled labor for the uneducated.
But Australia, in its thirst for the enormous tax revenue paid by mining companies, the government has turned the education=$$$ equation on its head, disrupting the entire labor market and putting the normal operation of the economy on the economic equivalent of crack cocaine. The ease at which mining is done in Australia, the raping of large tracts of land with no requirement or interest in any type of land restoration, and the massive profits being made by business and government has these unskilled Australian workers making two, three, and four times what even American miners are paid.
Headhunters are now scouring Cairns for more sources of workers unskilled at mining, and arranging "fly-in/fly-out" contracts with new mines soon to come on stream. Note that this is different than hiring unskilled workers - the unskilled worker market in Australia was long ago tapped out. Between the truly unskilled and the lazy dole bludger, there are no more unskilled workers to be had.
So what are we doing now? We're using these massively overinflated wages to entice SKILLED workers into these jobs. And who's taking these jobs? Policemen. Firemen. School teachers. Office workers. Tradies. Computer technicians. Office managers. Business managers. Pretty much any skilled worker is "eligible" to win the mining job lottery, with the bulk of workers still being sourced from regional areas of WA, QLD, and NSW - but expanding quickly.
The corrosive effect of these grossly-overpaid workers is having equally corrosive effects economically, culturally, socially, and educationally. It is an incredible and profound stupidity that will leave Australia a gutted educational shell in years to come. As the rest of the world pushes higher education, technology, and the upgrading of people's lives via higher skills Australia is deliberately pushing Australians down the ladder of success.
And most communities in regional Australia are now seeing the first results of this diversion of labor from the usual, skilled occupations into the mining companies. Some of these results are:
• Queensland Police along with other policing agencies have dramatically lowered their standards for new recruits, and yet are seeing inadequate numbers of candidates for the profession. This after much of the QPS middle management is being gutted by the exodus to the mine pay gold rush, leaving the Service with inadequate operations. It's no wonder communities around Queensland are seeing massive increases in crime, and lowered clearance rates.
• Despite the lowest rate of construction in Australian history, tradies are in short supply across the country with many of these skilled workers diverted into mining jobs. Roadworkers have been stripped from local councils around Queensland.
• Despite increased compensation and support for trade apprenticeships, most of these tradie-prep jobs are going begging. Easier for 16 or 17 year olds to go directly to the mines to "make their fortune".
• Mine communities, small-town Australia, are now being economically ravaged by these "great mining jobs". Fly-in/Fly-Out leaves little money in the community.
• Mine communities with large live-there populations have seen massive price inflation in housing and other amenities. Those living without the mining "crack cocaine $$" are being priced out of their own communities. Nurses, teachers, public workers - all have seen the price of housing triple or quadruple, easily paid by the miners but unaffordable to "normal" workers. The divide between those hooked on the mining "crack $$$" and those out of the money stream has turned economics on its head! Skilled workers at the bottom of the economic pyramid, with unskilled mine workers at the top!
• The collapse in the Cairns shipyard industry was directly related to the mines. As the shipyard companies saw their welders "picked off" by the mining $$$, their already inefficient operations were priced out of reality.
• Movement of goods in and out of our small towns is getting increasingly more difficult as truckers are diverted from their normal jobs to the "crack cocaine $$$" from mining. Just this week, banana farmers near Innisfail complained of their inability to move bananas to market, as their seasonal need for truckies compounded by these same truckies going to work at the mines for wages in excess of $150K a year means there likely won't be any great fall in banana prices. Reports are similar from the sugar cane and milk industries.
Cairns is already seeing some of the negative effects of the mining boom while our "leaders" push forward with more plans to suck up this mining crack cocaine. Some of these effects include:
• The explosion of crime among young people in Cairns is known by the QPS to be a direct result of "dad" being away at the mines, and "mum" at her local job as clerk at Coles or Woolies, or other minimally-skilled job. And with dad off at the mines, sporting clubs across the region all report the impossibility in getting dads to act as coaches and other sporting assistants.
• Cairns schools today reported the highest absentee rate for decades. Over 11% of students are missing on any given day. This means literally hundreds of school-age children are roaming the city, unsupervised, and in many cases responsible for the explosion in crime. Been to Cairns Central, Raintrees, Stockland, or other shopping centres during schooldays? I am horrified to see the numbers of wagging students, UNCHALLENGED by Police Beat officers or any Queensland Education staff in these venues. Much less when they're roaming the streets.
• And just as the crime rate goes up, the number and quality of police available is going down. Police in Queensland are lumbered by the lowest take-up of technology in any state, with officers taking hours to do paperwork and crime reports that are done in much less time elsewhere. As any old-timer in Cairns, or anywhere in Australia can attest, the soft looking barely out of their teens police trainee now routinely seen around our town is no match for the hardened crim, or a 12 year old bent on a crime spree. We're now routinely being told arrests are being made of children for 100+ crimes. Thanks to the mines.
• What about "dad" at his mining job? Long days, gruelling conditions, sometimes living in less than ideal conditions - dad is pictured as "sacrificing" for the betterment of his family. But the reality is much different. Most of our miners are now living unwholesome, violent, mining money crack-addict lifestyles. Prostitution is rampant in mining areas with migration agents encouraged by the mining companies to fly in large numbers of Chinese hookers. Government inattention to the massive increase in "student visas" has meant they are complicit in this. When it comes to mining, the Chinese are fucking us in every way possible. In fact the use of whores is traditionally encouraged by the mining companies as an outlet for male aggression, to minimise worksite disputes, and ultimately increase productivity. All this depravity, while Mum is home, usually also working, trying to manage children alone (the new Australian "broken home"), while dad is busy working, fucking strange and often diseased women company provided women, and drinking his arse off with his workmates, along with many taking all types of drugs from marijuana, to speed to heroin. And with the police "defanged" in these company towns, anything goes.
The artificial creation of one-parent households by the government has precedent - in the 1960's the US Government increased welfare benefits to single-parent families, with "bonuses" for each new child born out of wedlock. While this policy was finally eliminated by President Clinton in the early 1990's, the social damage to US society will live on for generations.
The evidence is clear. Fly-in/Fly-out mining creates unsustainable communities. The mining community is a cesspool of whores, alcohol, drugs, and testosterone, with all the "normal" life squeezed out. And the communities sending these young men to the mines are unsustainable without them. Thousands of children being raised in communities with no men, no leaders, no fathers, no hope. Crime growing and no one to fight it. Fires with no one to fight them. Houses needed with no one to build them. Children needing to be educated with no one to teach them. Roads needing repair with no one to fix them. The corrosion to Australian society is already evident to those who care to look, and growing daily.
And the solution is so simple. Allow, indeed encourage, the mining companies to import low skilled workers from countries in the region desperate to find jobs for their non-skilled workers. The Philippines is one such country. Millions of filipinos work offshore, as unskilled construction workers in the Middle East, as nannies and housekeepers in Hong Kong and Singapore. Paid wages commensurate with their skills, they're happy to work hard overseas for five or ten years while young, building a nest-egg or supporting their extended families. These workers are available from many of our Pacific Island neighbours.
Additionally, we should extend the "super profits" tax to the workers. Why should a non-skilled worker be allowed to pull "super wages" out of a company and gut two communities in the process? Many object to the companies making "super profits"? Why should workers be making "super profits" to the detriment of their fellow citizens? This is mateship??
Will anything be done? I am not optimistic. We've allowed the unions and greenies to block the natural movement of low-cost labor, making Australia the highest cost production company in the world. When an unskilled teen makes $150K/year driving a truck back and forth at a mine, why should he get any further eduction? When an unskilled teen girl can make $20/hour running a till at a Shell Servo, why should she get an eduction to be a nurse for only $2 or $3 more an hour?
Without drastic reform of migration and wage policies, Australia is slowly but assuredly rotting from within. We can't provide this huge disincentive to education and expect our country to survive in an world where higher education is demanded. However like all "complex" problems, the cause and effect from something like "Fly-in/Fly-out" mining will unlikely be addressed at the root - it requires depth of thought and analysis, and the ability to communicate with the public. We have virtually no politicians capable of doing something so basic to their jobs. Modern government is sadly now the equivalent of social "whack a mole".
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