|Mining camp - Pic courtesy Toowoomba Chronicle|
That was the description the motelier used when I asked him how the town was faring now that the gas projects had moved on to extraction. I was booking into a motel in a town in the Surat basin.
It's not a large town, there aren't very many motels, and he was in conversation with me, gentle reader, not you, so I won't identify the place.
I was the only person booking in that night (last Tuesday).
The motelier was referring to the mining companies which have recently moved from the construction phase of their projects to the extraction phase.
"Bastards!" He repeated. "They're sending us all broke".
I had driven into town from the south, passing the airport. There was an Alliance 717 on the Tarmac. Three charter buses were pulling up, discharging a gaggle of blokes in hi-vis gear.
Later, after this brief and bitter conversation, I wandered down to the Foodworks to pick up some tucker. There weren't any blokes in hi-vis gear in the supermarket.They're not in the habit of shopping there.
Everything they consume at the camp is trucked in under contract from hundreds of kilometres away.
They spend no money in the town.When I pressed the motelier about what he meant, he alluded briefly to locals investing in businesses and property in town in anticipation of growth, only to be left in the lurch.
Two new motels had been built in anticipation of the boom. They're pretty much empty, as was the one I was staying in.
The mining companies simply bypassed them. Everything from the workers to the kit is sourced from the coast or down south. The anger and despair in town is palpable.
On checking out the following morning I asked the question, which as a teacher, I always ask.
"Are they employing local kids?"
The answer was "No, although they put an apprentice on last year. It was all over the paper", he said. "Nothing before or since - just a token".
As I was leaving, mine host made one thoughtful remark -
"They've refined the methodology of destroying small communities, and they're following it to the letter. The local council went like lambs to the slaughter. They approved everything, yet they're supposed to be looking after us, their ratepayers".
I kid you not - that's verbatim.When I asked him why this was occurring, he said it was all about control. They (the mining companies) want to control every aspect of their employees lives - where they live, with whom they associate, and where they spend their money, he said.
What he didn't say was that none of them, as a condition of employment, could live outside the camp, nor could they join a union. Or more accurately, if they did, they had to make sure that their employer didn't find out about it.
The biggest threat to corporate control of power in this country is organised labour. That's why the mining multinationals and their minions in our federal government are so determined to eliminate it from our national life.
That's what the locals call the mining multinationals.........
Update 1 -
The ABC reads my blog. This story will be featured on Landline on Sunday at noon.
Update 2 -
This feature article appeared in the on the front page of the Weekend Australian on 15th August 2015. It's satisfying to know that this story is worth writing about, and not simply an anti-mining rant as inferred by some of my readers who inhabit the extreme Right of the political spectrum.
|The first page of the Oz story - click to enlarge.|