Region’s push to provide housing

ONE hundred hectares of council-owned land in the accommodation starved town of Moranbah is expected to be opened up for housing development in the near future.

Between 1500 and 2000 housing blocks could be built on what is some of the last undeveloped residential land in the mining town.

Isaac Regional Council mayor Anne Baker said while the project was still in the development application phase, she was confident it would go ahead.

“It’s close to being lodged,” Cr Baker said.

“I could see no reason why it won’t be approved.”

The land set to be developed is near the entrance to the town opposite the “red bucket” and will be known as Belyando Estate.

Cr Baker said she was in close consultation with Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney in an attempt to release the land.

“The council planning department is working tirelessly to get to the development application stage,” Cr Baker said.

“We basically need to prove to the State Government… we’ve been active in bringing land to market.”

Last month, tensions in Moranbah were near breaking point following the State Government Urban Land Development Authority’s approval of a 3200-person workers’ camp on some of the last available residential land in Moranbah.

Moranbah is surrounded by mining leases, which restricts the availability of land for housing.

Cr Baker said while she was still unhappy about the camp going ahead, the new land release would help ease housing affordability pressures in the town.

“Council needs to sell these blocks of land… that is on the top of our list,” Cr Baker said.

“It is an absolute priority of this council to deliver affordable land and housing.

“And to provide people a choice to live where they work.”

Cr Baker said the council was yet to consider any pricing strategies for the land.

“The feel of council is it has to be affordable to the people who want to live there,” she said.

“With that focus in mind we want to be as fair as we possibly can.”

Mega workers camp adds to Moranbah woes

It’s fairly safe to say that Moranbah isn’t a happy place right now.

Certainly in the past, there’s been big money made by property investors – and potential returns are still very high, despite the current oversupply of rental properties relating to mining giant BMA’s recent refusal to sign any new leases for staff.

The latest cloud over Moranbah’s property market is the controversial mining camp for 3,200 workers – technically it’s been approved by the Urban Land Development Authority, but Premier Campbell Newman has since handed that decision-making power back to Councils, and the Isaac Mayor is demanding the camp be scrapped by the Queensland Government.

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney has until mid-next week to call in the mining camp development, which Mayor Anne Baker says will devastate the existing Moranbah township.

“You can’t solve a housing crisis by taking the last remaining residential land for family housing – and stick Queensland’s biggest camp on it. It just doesn’t make sense, particularly when you can put it somewhere else,” she says.

“It’s a destructive, illogical and irresponsible development that will threaten the future of one of Australia’s greatest coal mining communities. The Urban Land Development Authority and the developer are treating our community as a doormat,” says the Mayor.

Any property investors who’ve dabbled in the Moranbah market must be watching this stoush with interest.

When BMA stands firm, sales levels sneeze and the whole town catches cold from the resulting oversupply of rental properties – although it’s probably a temporary loss of confidence in such a small, high-demand market.

But what would happen to rental returns if another 3,200 workers are housed away from town, out of the local accommodation market? It’s a question that makes the very high asking prices on Moranbah investment properties look a little more risky than usual.

Some locals support the camp idea, applauding the theory that ‘Fly In, Fly Out’ workers could be housed out of town, away from permanent residents. The design isn’t final, but the camp is likely to have its own shops, bars, sporting and entertainment facilities – and locals are heartily sick of drunk young mine workers loitering around town causing trouble in the early hours.

On the other hand, if the estimated length and breadth of Queensland’s mining boom is to be believed, then investing anywhere in Moranbah can’t be wrong at almost any price. The current oversupply is probably just a hiccup. If you’re confident the demand for consistently overpriced private rental properties will still be strong in Moranbah for many years to come, then the mining camp result won’t bother you either way.

So, how long is a piece of string?!


By Melanie Stott, 13th June 2012


Moranbah’s housing crisis coverage

ISAAC Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker has rejected Premier Campbell Newman’s statement the former IRC had failed in its town planning measures, and said she remained committed to working with the State Government on future development applications.

Cr Baker last week issued a mass call to arms to protest the ULDA’s approval of a 3256-person MAC worker camp on the only remaining residential land in Moranbah.

ISAAC Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker has rejected Premier Campbell Newman's statement the former IRC had failed in its town planning measures.

Residents took up the challenge and bombarded Premier Newman through various means, including Facebook, which prompted the publishing of a statement late Friday afternoon.

“My government believes that councils are best placed to make decisions about the development of their own communities,” Mr Newman wrote. “Unfortunately, the previous council had not created a town plan for Moranbah that allowed for sensible development of housing for families and single people that was affordable.”

Cr Baker rejected the claim and said the former IRC had developed a town plan which was over-ruled by the ULDA.

But she refused to inflame the situation further and said the IRC was committed to working with the State Government on the future of Moranbah.

“There was a town plan,” Cr Baker said. “The issues we’re asking is to call the application in and to work toward an alternative solution. The critical issue is that it is a large-scale mining camp on good quality residential land, and Moranbah is landlocked.”

Local Government Minister David Crisafulli will today meet with IRC representatives.

This is a fight we must win: Pearce

FORMER Labor politician and mining communities advocate Jim Pearce has bolstered the Isaac Regional Council’s call to arms to mount a campaign protesting the MAC camp development in Moranbah.

Mr Pearce said the 400 people at last week’s meeting were a great starting point in venting their passions and concerns, but more was needed.

“What we need to do is continue to broaden our approach every time,” Mr Pearce said.

“Even think of doing other things like demonstrations in front of BHP, in front of Anglo Coal, or just standing there handing out brochures with all the details on it.

“Be prepared to get outside the box and targeting people more with the concerns of the communities, and make sure they’re getting the message.”

Let down by the government of which he was a part, Mr Pearce said he was “suspicious” of the LNP government and its attitude toward mining companies.

“We were badly let down by the Labor government,” he said.

“It almost broke my heart because our campaign was run in such a way it gave the (LNP) government the opportunity to make good for themselves and to say we’ve heard the community, we’re going to insist that mining companies put in at least 20-30% of the workforce and give (workers) a choice to live in these communities.

“I’m very suspicious as to what is going on.

“There are significant issues with what (Jeff Seeney) is saying.

“There’s an attitude of ‘we’re very close to the big end of town and we’ll be working with them to get what they want’.

“I think we’re going to see communities become very outraged with this government, but here is a good opportunity to prove they are listening.”



Mr Pearce said Moranbah needed an unwavering resolve and a winning attitude to ensure the town was not overlooked.

“You have to have an attitude of ‘we’re going to win this’, but we can only win it if everyone has a go,” he said.

“That’s where it’s up to myself and other leaders in the community to… push the issues as much as we can.”

Family homes the best answer for Moranbah

ROSE Vella has seen Moranbah’s highs and lows.

While she admitted the MAC camp was needed to house the growing population, Mrs Vella said it should be built on a mine site to alleviate the pressure families face trying to remain in the town.

In the past 40 years, she has seen young families move to Moranbah to try to make a go of things, but with the short supply of housing, she had also seen them leave.

The influx of workers would also add more pressure on resources and facilities already stretched to their limits, she said.“I liken Moranbah to going through growing pains,” Mrs Vella said.Within the last six to nine months, residents knew of houses being sold but not being told they were being ripped down and replaced with two-storey units.


“There are double storey units being built right next to family homes.”

Mrs Vella said residential houses should be built rather than the 3256-person camp to give families the opportunity to live where they work, and with the increased number of permanent residents, there would be the need to upgrade Moranbah’s facilities.

“The way the town is progressing, young families are coming but the question is whether they will stay when their children go into upper primary or high school because the town doesn’t have the facilities.”

Workers keen to have a chat


COMMUNITY groups are “screaming out” for volunteers and transient workers are desperate for any conversation to beat the boredom and ward off depression.

These observations are from Rebecca, a Moranbah resident who, while delivering Census forms around the town, was overwhelmed by the number of people who invited her to sit, have a chat and spend some time with them.

“There were a younger guy and an older guy that asked me to sit down and watch the football,” Rebecca said.

“There was a woman who said she was lonely and detained me for 15 minutes just for a chat. A lot of people would try and keep me there and have a chat for five minutes or more.

“On Census duty, there had been a couple of people here and there who were depressed, and it really concerned me.”

Rebecca, who wished to be known only by her first name, said there had previously been talk of community engagement plans within the Moranbah township to foster relations with all residents.

“But as far as I know, nothing has been actioned,” she said.

“Sporting clubs would love to have people help out and get involved. But if they live in the camps or the caravan park, they can’t really get involved in the community.”

If you or someone you know may be at risk, Lifeline can help 13 11 14, SANE on 1800 187 263 or beyondblue on 1300 224 636.

Miners’ camp plan a ‘mistake’

ISAAC Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker will fight the proposed workers’ camp earmarked for prime residential land within Moranbah’s urban footprint.

In a fiery speech to 400 Moranbah residents at the community centre on Thursday, Cr Baker declared the MAC Group’s mining camp a destructive, illogical and irresponsible development that would threaten the future of one of Australia’s greatest coal mining communities.

“The message for the government is simple. You can’t solve a housing crisis by taking the last remaining residential land for family housing, and stick Queensland’s biggest camp on it,” Cr Baker said. “You can put a camp in numerous places outside our urban footprint, but this residential land will be lost forever if this irresponsible development proceeds.”

After the Urban Land Development Authority approved the camp, which will house 3200 people, late last week, Cr Baker wrote to Premier Campbell Newman asking him to intervene.

“The Newman Government needs to call this development in, allow the proponents to work on solutions with the council, and re-decide the application in a way that meets legitimate community expectations, supports sustainable industry growth, rather than stomping on the community’s future hopes and aspirations,” she said.

“I hope the State Government can see that it is a big mistake to allow our community to be trampled by a distant bureaucracy (ULDA).”

Cr Baker dismissed speculation that resource projects were relying on this development to house their workers in order to proceed with mining developments.

“Relocating this development would in no way impact resource company arrangements for their workforce.”

Council slams mining camp

ISAAC Regional Council has slammed the Urban Land Development Authority over its approval of a huge workers camp near Moranbah.

The MAC Services Group’s application for a 3200-room facility on 50?hectares was approved on May 29.

Isaac Mayor Anne Baker has lashed out at the decision, which came just two days before Minister for Planning Jeff Seeney announced the State Government would transfer planning powers from the Urban Land Development Authority (ULDA) back to councils.

“The ULDA has ignored and steamrolled our community at every turn,” Cr Baker said. “Our community objected to their draft plan over a year ago.”

A ULDA spokesperson said the size and type of the MAC group’s proposed facility was warranted in the short term to support the resource projects in the region.

The application was lodged in December 2011.

“We then objected to this record-breaking and permanent 3258-person camp development under their centrally imposed planning scheme – and they refused to listen,” Cr Baker said.

The spokesperson said only eight submissions had been received during public consultation early this year.

“The key issues raised related to the potential adverse impacts the facility may have on essential services in town,” they said. The ULDA imposed several development approval conditions.

“The ULDA is requiring that the MAC dedicate 5% of rooms (163 beds) as affordable housing for non-mining key workers or provide a comparable monetary contribution to the Isaac Affordable Housing Trust for the provision of permanent affordable housing,” the spokesperson said.

Significant infrastructure contributions also are required, including the provision of a delivery strategy, the construction of all local infrastructure at the site, a $3.4m contribution to local infrastructure and an upgrade to the Moranbah Access-Moranbah Railway Station Rds intersection.

Cr Baker yesterday wrote to Premier Campbell Newman urging him to intervene and put a stop to the project.

She will also host a public meeting at Moranbah Community Centre at 7pm on Thursday to discuss the development.

Moranbah residents oppose fly-in mining camp for 3200 workers

THE State Government will consider calling in the development of the state’s biggest mining camp for 3200 people planned for the town of Moranbah.

The town has signalled it has had enough of the thousands of people in mining camps and has demanded the State Government consider the overturning of the approval of the Urban Land Development Authority.

Two days before Premier Campbell Newman announced he was handing back planning power to councils, the ULDA approved the camp owned by American company MAC.

Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker labelled the decision as arrogant and out of touch and has written to Mr Newman asking his urgent intervention.

She said if the camp went ahead there would be almost as many fly-in, fly-out workers in town as there are residents.

“The sheer size of it is the first point against it,” Cr Baker said.

The 50ha site is on the outskirts of the town and right next to an emerging residential development.

“This is a ridiculous development, delivered by a bad centrally imposed planning scheme, which our community whole heartedly rejects. I am urging Premier Campbell Newman to act now to put a stop to it.” she said.

“The ULDA has ignored and steamrolled our community at every turn. Our community objected to their draft plan over a year ago, they refused to listen.” she said.

The town has battled major social issues since the influx of FIFO workers and rents have skyrocketed to $3800 a week.

Cr Baker said the project would have a devastating impact on the town.

She said the council and the State Government needed to discuss alternatives to the camp.

Cr Baker said the council simply could not sit back while an agency that the Government now controlled and which the Premier opposed approved a development that would “challenge the social cohesion” of the town.

Planning Minister Jeff Seeney has 10 business days to call in the development.

ULDA APPROVAL – MAC Moranbah South Accommodation Village

Public notice – MBH Community Meeting – ULDA Decision – MAC Moranbah South Accommodation Village

On May 29 2012 the ULDA approved a development application submitted by mining
accommodation provider The MAC Services Group Pty Ltd (The MAC) for a large-scale non-resident worker accommodation facility.

The MAC Moranbah South Accommodation Village has been approved to service 3,258 persons on a 50 hectare site and will be situated on the corner of Moranbah Access Road and Railway Station Road, Moranbah.

Isaac Regional Council would like to invite residents to attend a community meeting to be held in response to the Urban Land Development Authority approval.

Date: Thursday, 7 June 2012
Time: 7pm for 7.30pm start
Venue: Main Hall, Moranbah Community Centre

Councillors and Council Officers will be available to discuss the UDA Decision Notice.
For more information about this meeting please contact Isaac Regional Council on 1300 ISAACS (472227).
Chief Executive Officer