'FIFO' police could join miners
WE'VE all heard about fly-in fly-out mine workers - now police officers could take to the skies.
Emerald Senior Sergeant Graeme Reeves has been awarded a scholarship to travel to Canada, where mounted police officers are being flown into remote mining areas, to further his research into fly-in fly-out (FIFO) policing.
The prospect of FIFO police officers is very real in the Bowen Basin mining region, with difficulty attracting and retaining officers in remote areas that have extreme costs of living.
Isaac Regional Council Mayor Cedric Marshall said the idea of a FIFO police force had been talked about before.
While he would prefer to see people living in remote communities, Cr Marshall said FIFO workforces may also have to be extended to include paramedics and other vital service providers.
"With these big mining villages that are happening in the north-western area and the Galilee Basin, they may have to go down that track, because some of those camps are going to have 4000 or 5000 people," Cr Marshall said.
"They're going to need policing in those areas (and) they're going to be remote areas.
"You can't attract people out in those remote areas."
Mackay police district officer Superintendent Graham Coleman said it could be difficult to attract and retain resident police officers in remote areas that had high costs of living.
"From our perspective these are challenging times to provide police within communities which are in the midst of the mining boom," he said.
"It is important that we investigate every way (to address this)."
Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said FIFO policing was worth considering once properly researched.
"Fly-in, fly-out policing is one area that needs a lot more research, because at the moment there are too many questions left unanswered with this concept for it to be introduced," he said.
Queensland Mining Communities president Kelly Vea Vea said a forced FIFO police workforce would not solve the problem.
"Unfortunately the Bligh Government is asleep at the wheel on issues like housing affordability and sustainable development in our regions," Ms Vea Vea said.
"Forced fly-in fly-out for police won't fix the problem that the Bligh Government isn't paying police officers enough to ensure they can live with their families in communities if they choose.
"Police service members shouldn't be forced to spend six months a year away from home and families on a FIFO roster.
"They should have a choice about their own living arrangements and be given incentives to ensure they are not disadvantaged."