Decreasing FIFO workers to push rent skyward

While ‘fly-in, fly-out’ workers have been likened to cancer in a recent parliamentary report, more residential workers could put additional pressure on rents and prices in mining towns, according to property experts.

A report titled Cancer of the Bush or Salvation of the Cities by the House Standing Committee on Regional Australia, chaired by Independent MP Tony Windsor, has recommended workers to become permanent residents of regional communities where possible due to negative impacts of FIFO and drive-in, drive out (DIDO) workers on the local communities.

According to’s Terry Ryder, while this may improve long-term investment prospects in mining towns such as Moranbah from a “purely investment point of view”, it would be solving one problem but creating another.

“In places such as Dysart and Moranbah, rents and prices [have been] pushed up to very high levels despite the fact that part of the people who work in the mines in the Bowen Basin are doing so on a FIFO basis,” Mr Ryder said.

“If they curtailed FIFO or DIDO, forced them to have more people living locally, that would put even more pressure on local housing supply, which has always been in short supply. Thereby rents and prices would go even higher.”


However, employing people locally would mean people would be spending their money locally, which would generate some benefits for the town, Mr Ryder continued.

Flynn De Freitas, principal at Omega Investments said, while restricting FIFO/DIDO workers will drive up costs and mean some projects will not proceed, he believes future projects will have a higher percentage of locally-based workers in town.

“[This] will mean more demand on traditional housing and this is excellent news for mining town property investors," Mr Freitas said.

However, Mr Ryder believes there is no simple solution to solve the existing problems in mining towns such as Moranbah.

“There are no solutions, there are no good guys and bad guys, there are just problems for various people. You implement a solution to help one side of the equation, and you create problems for another,” he said.

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