CFMEU urges Newman to be strong on anti-FIFO stance

The CFMEU have welcomed QLD premier Campbell Newman’s FIFO statements, but say he must back his words with action.

It comes after Newman stated on his twitter that his government is completely opposed to 100 per cent FIFO operations in the state.

This news has been welcomed by the CFMEU, which added that Newman must now stick to his word and take action to reverse existing compulsory FIFO arrangements.

CFMEU QLD district president Steve Smyth told Australian Mining “this is great news, as we’ve always been against both 100 per cent compulsory FIFO or 100 per cent compulsory community hiring, as we believe workers should have a choice”.

“We want Mr. Newman to now stick to his word and get BHP to lift its ban on locals applying for new jobs at its Daunia and Caval Ridge mine, and provide the current workforce the opportunity to live locally if they choose,” he said.

In an official statement Smyth went on to say that there are other mining operations currently refusing to hire locals as well, and this practice must be stamped out.

“The new Grosvenor mine operated by Anglo [American] is insisting its workforce commute to the site from hours away, even though it is only five kilometre from Moranbah.

“With large scale job losses in mining there are many skilled experienced mineworkers in Bowen Basin towns like Moranbah looking for work,” he said.

“They shouldn’t have to uproot their families and leave their communities in order to get around the ban on local employment.”

Commenting on the statments, BHP Billiton said its subsidiary “BMA has eight operating mines in the Bowen Basin and six of those have residential workforces”.

“BMA made a careful and considered decision to operate its newest mines, Caval Ridge and Daunia with remote workforce arrangements for a range of reasons, including the ability to source a diverse workforce and to share the economic benefits of employment in the mining industry more broadly across Queensland,” a spokesperson told Australian Mining.

“The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process that BMA is undertaking for the Red Hill Mining Lease project will enable and sustain mining activities within the Goonyella Riverside and Broadmeadow Mine complex, both of which are operations with residential workforces.  Whilst the company currently has no plans to proceed with the Red Hill Mine component of the EIS it remains an important future option for BMA.

“The workforce required for the sustaining mining activities associated with Goonyella Riverside and Broadmeadow mines would be residential. The Red Hill Mine option of the EIS proposes an up to 100 per cent remote workforce for both construction and operations. As stated in the Red Hill Mining Lease EIS the final workforce arrangements for the Goonyella Riverside Mine incremental expansion and the Red Hill Mine underground expansion option will be finalised once the project scope and timing has been committed to by the owners.

” We will continue to work with local communities to find solutions to continue to build local sustainability.  We have made an important contribution over many years.”

Anglo American were unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

Victoria plans to outlaw small apartments

A plan to outlaw very small apartments in Victoria would halt construction and out-price new apartments for all but the well off, developers and architects say.

A working draft of the new Victorian Apartment Design Standards prepared by the Office of the Victorian Government Architect mandates a 37 square metre minimum size for units. It also introduces minimum sizes for one-, two- and three-bedroom units.

The document was prepared for Planning Minister Matthew Guy.

Unlike in NSW, there is no minimum apartment size in Victoria. Last year, developer Sixth Lieutenant gained approval for 33 square-metre one-bedroom units in Fitzroy.

Chinese-backed developer Hengyi Australia has sold $240 million of apartments in its 69-level Light House tower overlooking Queen Victoria Market. Many would be too small under the proposed changes.

Hengyi Australia head of marketing and development Stephen Speer said the rules would have a “massive impact” on the supply of new apartments.

“They’re discriminatory against first-home buyers and entry-level investors. Not everyone can afford a $1 million apartment,” he said.

He said the government should not interfere in a functioning market “The market is undergoing a process of evolution,” he said.

“People are changing their lifestyles and adapting to living in smaller and smaller spaces. People in power are not in tune with that Imposing standards will only inhibit the market’s growth and evolution.”

The standards would regulate building depth, orientation, minimum communal space, open space, room ventilation, daylight exposure, soil space for trees, minimum balcony sizes and distance between buildings.

“What’s being proposed is lovely in principle, but what the OVGA does not realise is that these standards will bring a screaming halt to the construction industry and make apartment living only for the rich,” said Craig Yelland of Plus Architecture.

He predicted big job losses and a spike in apartment prices and rents if the government adopts the proposals, and said development would be pushed to the outer fringe of Melbourne, where infrastructure costs were greater.

Melbourne developer Michael Yates said the market should dictate what people wanted.

“There are a lot of people that want to live in an apartment that’s smaller than 50 square metres, [the minimum proposed for a one-bedroom unit]. I’m all for raising standards, but if you put apartments in a different price bracket they won’t sell,” he said.

The requirement for apartment design standards was included in the Plan Melbourne metropolitan planning document released last year.

Tom Alves, a senior adviser at the Office of the Victorian Government Architect and chairman of the working group drafting the standards, said the agency had been instructed to improve the quality of apartments.

That was done in consultation with the state government, the City of Melbourne, local councils and lobby groups. A reference group was chaired by Victorian government architect Geoffrey London.

Mr Alves said apartments were shrinking, amenity was declining and there was inadequate daylight and ventilation in many new flats.

“Our intent is not to stymie the provision of apartments, but ensure these developments deliver a housing product that suits our needs now and into the future,” Mr Alves said.

He added that most CBD units were bought by investors who cared little about quality as long as it did not affect the return on the investment “These apartments will be lived in by renters and future owners and we need to provide a housing legacy as our population grows,” he said.

Mr Guy said his department was considering the proposals. ‘This review will include industry consultation and assessment of impacts on construction cost and housing supply,” he said.

Jon Clements, director of architects Jackson Clements Burrows, said he supported new standards and warned against “knee-jerk reactions”.

“Numerous buildings in the past 10 to 15 years have been very poorly designed in terms of amenity. There are a lot of examples of very small apartments that are impractical,” he said.

Radley de Silva, chief executive of the Master Builders Association of Victoria, said it would happily consult with the government on upgrading standards but had not had the opportunity.

“Our main concerns are around housing affordability and we would urge the government to ensure the final version of this paper provides for a variety of housing options for Victorians.”

The proposed Victorian standards are based on NSWs State Environmental Planning Policy 65-SEPP65, which came into force in 2002. It requires a minimum one-bedroom apartment size of 50 square metres but does not have a minimum size for studios.

Mr Yelland estimated the cost of a one-bedroom apartment would rise by $40,000 and a two-bedroom unit by $90,000 if the proposals were implemented. He said many inner-city apartment developments would become “prohibitively expensive”.

“A recently approved apartment building, that we designed in Carlton, has 17 apartments per floor,” he said ‘Under these guidelines we can only have eight apartments per floor. That is 47 per cent less dwellings.”


“These standards will bring a screaming halt to the construction industry.” – Craig Yelland, Plus Architecture


Draft Melbourne apartment design standards

  • 90% of apartments must receive direct sunlight
  • The building should be orientated so that living areas face north
  • No building should have a depth greater than 18 metres
  • 20% of a development site area should be communal space ‘
  • 30% of building materials used must be recycled or locally sourced
  • Buildings nine storeys or higher must be separated by a gap of 12 – 24m
  • A studio apartment cannot be smaller than 37 sq m, 50 sqm for one bedder
  • 5 to 15% of a site should have soil to take large canopy trees
  • There should be a maximum of eight apartments per lift per floor
  • Every apartment above ground level should have a 2m-deep balcony