A workers camp in the Surat Basin.
A workers camp in the Surat Basin. Derek Barry

Number of non-resident workers plummets

THE number of non-resident workers living in the Gladstone, Bowen Basin and Surat Basin nearly halved in two years, a new report has found.

The report from Queensland Coordinator-General Barry Broe found the number of workers in the areas who did not live there peaked at 40,265 in 2013.

By July 2015, that number had dropped to 26,520.

These included all fly-in, fly-out; drive-in, drive-out; and bus-in, bus-out workers.

Mr Broe found the overlap of the LNG construction boom in the Surat Basin and Gladstone areas and the coal mine construction boom in the Bowen Basin led to the rapid rise and fall of the number of NRWs.

"This fluctuation has largely been driven by construction workforces which, by their nature, are temporary and larger than operational workforces,” he said.

But the report found the mining and LNG boom had "brought economic benefit” to the regions.

"Large workforces were required for the construction phases of these projects with the potential to cause a range of social and economic impacts, including impacts on labour supply, housing, health and emergency services,” he said.

"Trend data indicates that purpose-built worker accommodation villages were largely effective in meeting the accommodation demand created by the NRWs.

"Where housing impacts occurred, a range of housing initiatives was implemented by proponents to mitigate affordability and availability impacts.”

The report found the boom caused resident populations to grow in all the council areas studied - except the Banana Shire.

"Increased employment opportunities associated with growth in the resources sector was a key contributor to this increase, together with natural growth and post-drought recovery,” the report said.

The Isaac Council area had the highest ratio of NRWs to residents. In 2012, there were 72 NRWS for every 100 residents. By 2015, that fell to 43 NRWS for every 100 residents.