MONDAY 28 MAY AT 8.30PM ON ABC1
It’s been described as the boom that keeps on giving – an export bonanza that will help Australia ride through a world-wide economic downturn. Across the country, workers have left their jobs to make big money in the mining industry. In the rush to exploit the country’s natural resources employers have all but set aside the idea of building or expanding communities. Instead they pay big wages to fly-in, fly-out or drive-in, drive-out workers, encouraging them to work long shifts, leaving them with little reason to become part of the local community.
This week, reporter Andrew Fowler looks at the impact of this rush to riches. Taking the cameras into Moranbah, in the heart of Queensland’s Bowen Basin, he visits locals that can’t get medical treatment, the families who say they are frightened to go out on the streets at night because of violence and he finds out why businesses are closing down.
The local businesses that do benefit from the boom are hotels, motels and real estate agents as house prices and rents skyrocket.
Things have become so bad in Moranbah that local residents voted the council out and gave the new mayor a mandate to rehabilitate the town. The question is, what can a local government do in the face of multi-billion dollar developments that are delivering State and Federal governments a massive boom in revenue? Can towns like this be saved?
“Towns are at risk, I think, of losing their identity and I think it’s emblematic of a number of mining towns across Australia. It’s turning from a proud self-contained community into a hotel town.” – Bernard Salt, Demographer
‘Casualties of the Boom’, reported by Andrew Fowler and presented by Kerry O’Brien, goes to air on Monday 28th May at 8.30pm on ABC1. It is replayed on Tuesday 29th May at 11.35pm. It can also be seen on Saturday at 8.00pm on ABC News 24, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.