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INSIDE: How new Queensland border restrictions will affect our FIFO workers PAGE 3

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Surat Basin projects remain a strong economic pillar for our communities during unprecedented pandemic

Our region is powering on PAGE 7

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We’ve got Queensland covered


Tough times ahead, but we will get through it JORDAN PHILP EDITOR

Snap of the month

NATURAL BEAUTY: Hayley Ann Wolski took this drone photo on the Western Downs which shows the expansive beauty of southwest Queensland.

inside Jobs on the cards for New Hope expansion......4 Enzed advertising feature.................................. 5 New gas wells now online..................................6 Senex is powering on..........................................7 Calls to fast-track inland rail...............................8

DOM Distribution advertising feature ............... 9 Protectings casual in pandemic........................10 Tarong responds to COVID-19..........................12 Industry leaders speak out...........................13-15 Adapting to online ............................................ 16

THE NEWSPAPER The Surat Basin News publishes every month and is delivered via the four dominant newspapers of the region: the Chinchilla News, Western Star, Dalby Herald and The Chronicle. It will reach the homes and offices of almost 50,000 people living, working and playing in the Surat Basin, connecting the business and mining communities throughout the booming region. Surat Basin News is a necessity. It was born out of a passion for Australia’s fastest growing communities – a passion for a region of unbridled potential and a future of vast economic growth and opportunities. The newspaper, professionally designed and regionally topical, is a must read for anyone associated with the exciting Surat Basin.

ONLINE: Surat Basin News has gone online to ensure our readers in every corner of the country have the latest news sent directly to them. Go to: www.suratbasin.com.au. PURCHASE FROM: Newsagents in Chinchilla, Roma, Dalby, Gladstone, Moura, Toowoomba, Calliope. VISION: Surat Basin News will allow local businesses to network and communicate with everyone in the 1200 sq km basin, providing unprecedented access to new clients and markets. It will give a revealing insight into major industry while lifting the veil on current and proposed developments. It will be there for each and every announcement shaping the region’s future while profiling the colourful characters

THE TEAM GENERAL MANAGER Erika Brayshaw, Chinchilla Phone 4672 9921 Email Erika.Brayshaw@chinchillanews.com.au ADVERTISING TEAM Jodie Williams, Chinchilla Phone: 4672 9900 Email: Jodie.Williams@chinchillanews.com.au

EDITORIAL Jordan Philp Phone: 4120 1017 Email: jordan.philp@ newsregionalmedia.com.au SURAT BASIN NEWS 12 Mayne Street, Chinchilla Q 4413 PO Box 138, Chinchilla Q 4413 The Surat Basin News is published by Chinchilla Newspapers Pty Ltd, 12 Mayne Street, Chinchilla Q 4413. The Surat Basin News is printed by News Corp Australia


IN A space of four weeks life as we know it has changed forever. Throughout January and February we saw increasingly alarming reports of COVID-19 and we considered Australia to be immune of its potential affects. It was in the second week of March where the realisation hit Australia that this global health emergency had crept up on us, it was on our shores and our economy too would fall victim to the virus. In this issue of Surat Basin News we let our region’s business, resource industry and political leaders have their say on the COVID-19 pandemic, how we as a community should approach this unprecedented challenge and what we as individuals can do to help stimulate the economy. Our region is diverse, the resource and agriculture sectors are major economic pillars in our communities and although they will be affected in different ways, their necessity in our society means we will survive this. The towns we call home spread across vast areas of southwest Queensland are no strangers to adversity. We have endured record-breaking droughts, we have battled through and came out the other side of severe economic downturns and with the right guidance from our Federal and State Governments and local councils, we will survive COVID-19 too. The best thing we can do as a community is abide by expert medical advice, circulate our money among local businesses when we can and provide our friends, family and community the support they will need during this time.


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New restrictions in place Interstate workers to be locked out as MP calls for testing of all passengers arriving on commercial flights into Moranbah MANY interstate workers will be banned from Queensland becaue of stricter border controls. Fly-in-fly-out workers who are not deemed critical by the State Government will not be allowed into Queensland. Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said the measures will be taken to protect remote communities from coronavirus. “Queensland has no known cases in our remote regional communities, and restricting these workers from entering the state will remove a possible transmission route,” Dr Lynham said. “Exempting critical people will ensure that resources projects can continue to produce the

mineral and energy resources we need.” The ban will not affect workers who travel throughout Queensland. Member for Burdekin Dale Last has called for all passengers arriving on commercial flights into Moranbah to be “fever tested’’ to protect the mining industry. Mr Last contacted Health Minister Steven Miles in a bid to have the testing brought in as a matter of urgency. He said there were both health and economic reasons for preventing the spread of COVID-19 into the region. “Currently, our mines are operating under very specific conditions to ensure that our

resources industry and the people who work in that industry, keep working because it’s essential for both jobs and for the state’s economy, especially at the moment,” he said. “It’s common knowledge that, when it comes to health services, the resources in places like Moranbah are limited when compared to larger centres so we need to take extra precautions. “Workers arriving on chartered flights are already being monitored and tested and that is a credit to the mining companies who have put the procedure in place. “But we have people arriving on commercial flights who aren’t being screened and that has the potential to cause massive problems.

“Given the need for the economic benefits that the mines provide, plus the resources they produce and the limited health services that are available, I think we need to test every single arrival.’’ With FIFO from other states now heavily restricted, Mr Last said the danger had only marginally decreased. “My preference is for the people that work in our mines to live in regional Queensland rather than doing FIFO, but that is a debate for another day,” Mr Last said. “Right now we need to ensure that we are doing everything possible to prevent COVID-19 from shutting down our mines and endangering people who live in smaller centres.”


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New Hope to create jobs Miner says approval of Stage 3 at New Acland will instill confidence in the workforce, the community, suppliers, and others reliant on the mine NEW Hope Group is calling on the State Government to grant the outstanding approvals for the New Acland Coal Mine Stage 3 expansion in order to generate jobs for the Darling Downs over the next 12 to 18 months. A New Hope Group spokesman said that by approving the expansion of the mine, confidence would be given to the existing workforce, the community, suppliers, and others reliant on the mine. Figures from New Hope Group project the creation of 487 new jobs at New Acland within 18 months of the final approvals. “The ramp up of jobs will commence from the day of approvals and continue through the construction phase,” the New Hope Group spokesman said. “Within the first three months 60 new jobs

will be created. This increases to 187 jobs after six months and 258 jobs after 12 months.” The mine has been chasing approvals for the controversial Stage 3 project for 12 years.

In recent years it has been tied up in a series of legal battles with the Oakey Coal Action Alliance. The alliance is fighting the mine’s expansion

to protect what it says is some “of the best agricultural land in Australia”. It also wants to have a say over the mine’s effect on groundwater and in its most recent latest legal foray, sought leave to appeal to the High Court in December last year. A tentative date to hear the alliance’s application has been set down for some time between May 18 and 29. Regardless of the outcome of the application, New Hope Group has maintained the State Government has all the information it needs to make a decision on the project’s outstanding approvals. However, the State Government is adamant that it would not be making a decision until after the outcome was known of the High Court application.


Appeal date set for controversial expansion UNCERTAINTY over the future of New Hope Group’s New Acland Stage 3 expansion could be laid to rest by late May. Both New Hope and the Oakey Coal Action Alliance have confirmed that a tentative date to hear the alliance’s application for special leave to appeal to the High Court has been set down for some time between May 18 and 29. A New Hope spokesman said the High Court had requested that both New Acland Coal Mine and the Oakey Coal Action Alliance make verbal submissions. If the application for special leave to appeal is dismissed, it would clear the way for the State Government to consider the mine’s outstanding 04

approvals – something that the Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Minister Anthony Lynham confirmed he was waiting on back in February. If leave to appeal is granted, it could be another six to 12-month wait for a decision. Regardless of the outcome of the application, New Hope Group has maintained the State Government has all the information it needs to make a decision on the project’s outstanding approvals. The mine has been chasing approvals for the controversial Stage 3 project for 12 years. In recent years it has been tied up in a series of legal battles with the OCAA.

SURAT BASIN NEWS, Thursday, April 23, 2020

The alliance sought leave to appeal to the High Court in December last year. The application relates to the Queensland Court of Appeal decision in September last year which dismissed both grounds of the alliance’s appeal and found a historic Land Court decision over the mine was affected by apprehended bias. The company made 150 workers redundant and ramped down production after that date passed. The alliance is fighting the expansion to protect what it says is some “of the best agricultural land in Australia” and to have a say over the mine’s effect on groundwater. TSUE01Z01MA - V2


ENZED - great service in our region AT ENZED Surat Basin we are committed to not only providing customers with excellence in our hose and breakdown services, we also stock a variety of products to suit more than you would expect. We believe in the products we provide and know that you will be satisfied with the results. Supplying a wide range of fluid transfer equipment, including oil and fuel guns, meters and transfer pumps to heavy duty retractable reels and diesel fuel storage kits for vehicles. We also have you covered when it comes to Environmental Spill Kit Supplies, ensuring you

can be at the ready in the event of a fuel, oil or chemical spill. We have the equipment to clean up efficiently, minimising damage to the environment. We also offer a variety of products which include anti-seize, silicone lubricants, specialty greases, red rubber grease, thread lockers and more. ENZED Surat Basin’s Managing Director, Shannon McDermott, has a strong focus on supporting our local community. We support various events and sporting teams in both Chinchilla and Roma, all our staff

live local and we encourage them to volunteer at local events and clubs. Shannon is the current President of the Chinchilla Community Commerce & Industry and takes a keen interest in the prosperity of the community. As a customer of ENZED Surat Basin, you can rest assured that by supporting our business you are supporting your community. As a recent example of this we have taken up the CCCI Community Spirit Challenge and have adopted an employee of the week award where the recipient receives a voucher to spend in participating local Chinchilla businesses.

We also have recently purchased a barbecue from Betta Electrical and have a lunch pack provided by the Farmers Market and Gleeson’s Meats where we offer a Friday barbecue lunch to increase staff morale while contributing to our community. Our doors are open as normal, we are still here for our customers 24/7 while taking necessary precautions to minimise the risk and impact from the coronavirus. Call us today on 07 4662 7038 or come in and check out our range of products we have in-store at 2B Osborne Street Chinchilla.


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Drilling starts - first gas well has reached total depth GALILEE Energy Limited has started drilling operations at Kumbarilla, located in the Surat Basin 40 kilometres from Dalby. At 6am on April 1, surface hole drilling began at a depth of 248 metres. The first gas well has reached total depth, with multiple coal seams intersected. Galilee Energy Limited has since announced the Kumbarilla Central 1 (KC1) well reached TD of 1020m. The complete Walloon Subgroup was intersected with coal confirmed in each of the three primary targets in line with prognosis these were Upper Juandah, Lower Juandah and the Taroom. Coal seams have consistently displayed

excellent qualities including strong gas shows upon penetration, bright vitrinite banding and pervasive internal fracturing. Wireline evaluation logs are currently being interpreted to calculate total net coal and other key reservoir properties within the coal bearing section. An initial evaluation of the logs indicates a net coal of approximately 25m, which is above the pre-drill expectations. Twenty high-quality coal samples have been collected and placed into gas desorption canisters to determine gas content, gas composition and gas saturation levels. Following the completion of logging and testing, the in-well evaluation program will be

complete and an update will be provided to the market in the coming days. The rig will then move on to the Kumbarilla Central 2 (KC2) well location. The Savanna Rig 406 first started drilling operations on Tuesday, March 31, with the Kumbarilla Central one well spudding. Galilee Managing Director Peter Lansom said the project would supply gas to Australia’s east coast gas markets. “The Kumbarilla Project is a quality asset in a proven gas-producing area, so the spudding of the first well is an exciting milestone in delivering on our strategy of converting resources to reserves and ultimately bringing material volumes of gas into the east coast gas

markets,” Mr Lansom said. The project will include the drilling of three exploration core holes to target coal seam gas resources in the Walloon Subgroup, which is set to take four weeks. The Kumbarilla Project hosts 504 petajoules of independently certified 2C contingent resources which can be readily fast-tracked to market through its proximity to existing coal seam gas production infrastructure. Once the Kumbarilla project is finished, the Savanna Rig 406 is scheduled to move to a Galilee gas project in central Queensland to drill a monitoring well. The Kumbarilla Project is 100 per cent owned and operated by Galilee Energy Limited.



Free community kindergarten A $17 million support package for community kindergartens struggling with falling enrolments from the global COVID-19 pandemic has been unveiled. The boost will enable more than 22,000 young children to continue a free kindergarten program and the options for learning at home. “Without these extra funds, sadly many community kindergartens already facing falling enrolment numbers could be forced to close their doors, possibly never to open again,” said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. “Our vital one-off funding will now support 465 Queensland community kindergartens right across the state to stay open in term 2 and, importantly, to enable them to provide their

programs free of charge for families for this period.” The package will assist: 465 community kindergartens to remain operational in term two, including 128 in regional Queensland 2754 early childhood teachers and educators to continue to be employed More than 22 000 children will continue to enjoy a kindergarten program and provide certainty for families and children including children with a disability. The support package also includes the waiving of regulation fees and changing the guidelines to enable services in rural and remote locations, who do not have an early childhood teacher, to receive payments for this time.

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Powering on during COVID Senex is currently faring well in the COVID-19 pandemic, with its outperforming Surat Basin operations providing a promising outlook for the next quarter. RESPONDING to coronavirus has been an unprecedented challenge for the whole resources industry, but the big changes haven’t spelled out doom and gloom for Senex. Industry standard COVID-19 protocols are well and truly in place and its latest quarterly report shows Surat Basin operations are thriving despite difficult economic times, with the Roma North facility outperforming expectations so far this year. Senex managing director and CEO Ian Davies said that the company was still moving forward with new health precautions in place and activities have not been hampered to a great extent. “(COVID-19) has affected every business in one way or another and the oil and gas industry is characterised by remote operations and its remote workers,” he said. “Making sure the health and safety of our employees and communities is at the forefront and we have put in a huge number of protocols in place. “We, as an industry, have agreed on protocols with the state and federal governments, for things like temperature checks, travel

restrictions and removing interstate travel, so we don’t have people from other states travelling into our operations.” Most Senex operations have been able to continue as normal during the pandemic, thanks to the local Surat Basin workforce. Mr Davies said the company’s early push to hire local had been a boon for its operations around the region, as nearby residents are not travelling from virus hot spots. “One of our focuses upfront was to have as much local employment as possible and I think without exception, all of our operators live in the Chinchilla and Roma regions,” he said. “Not only that, our construction, supervision and more transient workforce are generally locals, or are coming from Brisbane. “From that point of view we were fortunate to have planned ahead with what makes sense for us and then easily implement field access arrangements, hygiene policies, social distancing and things like that.” Senex’s two major Surat Basin projects, Roma North and Project Atlas (Wandoan), have posted promising output figures this quarter: Roma North is producing above nameplate capacity at

bout 18TJ per day, contributing to the regional total of about 29TJ per day. The local operations are tracking well to reach their full target of 48TJ per day, even after a reduction in the drilling program; Roma North’s outperformance has meant only 35 wells will need sinking, instead of the planned 50. In Wandoan, Project Atlas is being scaled down to 50 wells, from the original 60. While much of the work to reach the overproductive gas flows was done before the coronavirus outbreak, there is still more to be done. Mr Davies said he was confident that Senex would keep powering on during the coronavirus pandemic without too much disruption. “The existing wells which were drilled before this thing happened are just being brought online and that is a reasonably simple task, because the gathering networks have already been put in,” he said. “Once the wells are online, they have performed really well, so we have been able to keep that production online as an essential service for the domestic gas market. “However, we are going to feel the effects of

that (COVID-19) in this current quarter if there are delays to construction crews. “We’re not anticipating any at this point, but we take it very seriously. For now we have been fortunate that everyone is healthy and well and the social distancing and hygiene measures are being followed. “We haven’t seen any material impacts thus far, but it is where we need to keep vigilant.” Moving forward during uncertain times, both Roma North and Project Atlas are inching closer to completion and could even finish a few weeks ahead of schedule, according to Mr Davies. Most of the major construction work is tipped to finish in August, but he said other projects were in the pipeline. “Once the construction and drilling is complete, there will no doubt be a large number of contractor crews demobilised,” he said. “After August, we are busily planning what’s next and all the things which will come in to play with the COVID-19 response. “It will depend on the general economic conditions, oil prices and the effect it has on our company as well as suppliers because of all this.”

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Move to fast track is vital for our region TSBE has called for the long-awaited Inland Rail project to be fast-tracked by the Federal government, in order to protect the local economy during the COVID-19 pandemic

flow through our region.” Ms Davenport said Inland Rail was one such project worth $5 billion to the local economy, but was being held up due to perceived issues with the alignment. “There’s a group based in Millmerran who believe the flood modelling that has been completed for the Condamine Flood Plain is flawed, despite many different companies who are experts in hydrology reviewing and verifying the data,” she said. “Additionally, the Southern Darling Downs Community Consultative Committee nominated independent flood modelling expert Dr John Macintosh, who has 25 years water engineering experience, to review the modelling. He deemed the process to be sound.”

Ms Davenport said while TSBE respected the rights of those opposed to the project to have their say, experts needed to be trusted and the project must go ahead. “Inland Rail will provide construction jobs but also long-term growth as it will enable Toowoomba to become a transport and logistics hub,” she said. “This could potentially create many thousands of jobs, so it is imperative that the project goes ahead as soon as possible.” Another project which is not shovel-ready, but has been announced by the State Government, is the Toowoomba to Warwick water pipeline, announced by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk late last year. Ms Davenport called on the State


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Government to not only fast track this project but to also ensure that contractors were given priority opportunities, which would guarantee local jobs. “We have many local businesses who are incredibly experienced and capable of working on this project,” she said. “If the Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline work was broken up into sections then many capable local companies such as FKG Group, Wagners, Newlands Group and Hutchinson Builders would all gain opportunities and our locals would have long-term jobs.” Another opportunity is the Southern Queensland Correctional Centre based in Gatton which is worth $620 million with construction planned for completion by 2023.

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REGIONAL lobby group Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise has called on the Federal and State Governments to fast-track major infrastructure projects to help cushion the economic impact of COVID-19. TSBE CEO Ali Davenport said approvals to projects like the Inland Rail through the Darling Downs and the Warwick to Wivenhoe pipeline were vital ways of ensuring economic sustainability. “The best role governments can play when there is any sort of downturn is to start spending on infrastructure and keep people in jobs,” Ms Davenport said. “We have infrastructure projects approved and we just need the Government to move as quickly as possible so the economic benefits can

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Partnership offers great opportunity A DARLING Downs agricultural and earthmoving machinery business is celebrating an international partnership, now hosting rights to distribute Caterpillar OEM Solutions in Australia. DOM Distribution has announced a partnership with Caterpillar OEM Solutions to innovate, design and manufacture a unique range of new machinery solutions for the earthmoving and agricultural industries right here in the heart of the Darling Downs. A number of prototype projects are in the pipeline that integrate the latest Caterpillar technology and componentry into machinery and equipment designed and manufactured specifically to increase productivity in Australian broad acre farms and feedlots. “Being able to offer earthmoving contractors and agricultural producers localised machinery solutions that come with Caterpillar’s high performance, increased reliability and advanced technology is a tremendous opportunity both for DOM and for these industries in Australia,” Dom Distributions owner Pat O’Brien said.

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“When we were approached by Caterpillar Global in Germany last year with an invitation to step up and become Australia’s new Caterpillar Original Equipment Manufacturer, we were obviously pretty excited about the economic impacts in terms of jobs and regional growth on the Downs.” “At first, we were honoured to even be on their radar, but then more so for the trust that they were placing with us to drive the Caterpillar brand into new markets.” “Australian contractors and farmers work as hard as anyone I’ve encountered. “They’re savvy and environmentally conscious, always looking at smarter, easier and more economical ways to manage their resources .” “I think it’s fair to say the past few years have been some of the most challenging for Australian industry and contractors have had to continue to look for outside-the-box opportunities,” Mr O’Brien said. “That’s actually how our machinery rentals division was born – and which is now one of the largest facets of our business.”

SURAT BASIN NEWS, Thursday, April 23, 2020



Special leave for third of Surat gas workers THE Electrical Trade Union has called for all self-isolated coal seam gas workers in the Western Downs to be entitled to paid special leave amid the COVID-19 crisis. ETU South West Queensland Organiser Dan McGaw said more should be done to protect workers in the resource sector. “I think more can be done, profits are being put above the health and safety of workers… they don’t want to lose millions in revenue,” Mr McGaw said. “A major issue we face in the Surat Basin is one out of three workers do not have access to paid sick leave. “This means workers will have to choose between coming to work sick to pay the bills or staying at home and isolating - something a worker should not have to do. “Unions are calling on all employers to

guarantee a worker’s pay if they need to go home sick with flu like symptoms.” The ETU sent a letter to contractors across the Western Downs who work for the energy sector to find out what measures have been put in place to protect the health, safely, and financial security of workers in the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter stated those who must stop working and self-isolate should be entitled to paid sick leave, or risk workers not reporting flu-like symptoms. “The ETU believes that management must support these workers with paid leave to ensure they suffer no financial disadvantage,” the letter read. “If access to paid leave is not provided it increases the risk that some workers, practically casual and insecure workers, may attend work when infected with COVID-19 - this will increase

the risk to other employees in the workplace and could rapidly increase the spread of COVID-19.” A spokesperson for QGC Shell said the company was working with contractors to ensure the workforce was supported. “Our contractual arrangements deliver funding for paid leave to ensure contractors are provided leave in accordance with their employment conditions,” the spokesperson said. “We also understand this is a unique situation and we are working directly with contractors on an individual basis to ensure people are supported, where required, during this difficult time.” The spokesperson said those directly employed by QGC who work on site have access to Special Paid Leave. “This also applies if a worker is required to care for an immediate

family member who is required to self-isolate,” the spokesman said. “Staff will receive their standard salary and wages whilst accessing Special Paid Leave and Personal/Carers Leave, whatever might be applicable under the circumstances. “Our priority is the safety and health of our people and communities where we operate, as well as the continued safe operation of all our businesses. We continue to monitor closely to ensure the well-being of our staff and contractors, and follow the advice of the relevant authorities.” NewsCorp understands that, at this point in time, few contractors have responded to the ETU request for information regarding what procedures are being put in place to protect workers health, safety, and financial stability.




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Station keeping families safe Stanwell is committed to following coronavrius protocols while maintaining power across the state EVEN though the nature of the job means many cannot work from home, Stanwell is committed to keeping lights on across the state. Tarong Power Station and Meandu Mine is responding to and implementing a range of measures to ensure the safety of their staff, families and communities in which they operate during the coronavirus pandemic. Stanwell general manager for generation Brad Perry said that the wellbeing of employees, their families and the South Burnett community

was a priority. “We are working every day to ensure we are up-to-date with the latest health advice and reflecting any changes within our workplace procedures,” he said. “The nature of our business means some of our people are unable to work from home. However, we have implemented strict controls to manage their safety while on site.” Stanwell has promoted physical distancing, non-essential travel and meetings have been

rescheduled, cancelled or undertaken on virtual platforms. They have increased cleaning protocols and time and spacing restrictions for on-site meetings. Mr Perry said as well as the health and safety of its people, Stanwell was focused on maintaining security of the electricity supply for Queensland. “We have a critical role to play in the continuity of electricity supply to the people of

Queensland,” he said. “Our people have been proactive in applying the pandemic response measures, as they understand the criticality of our service. “They continue to practise measures, such as physical distancing, both at work and outside of work, so they can continue to keep the lights on across Queensland.” Stanwell will remain in close contact with relevant authorities and communities to ensure the safety and security of electricity supply.


CS Energy ensures casual workers get paid CS ENERGY has stepped up for its casual contractor workforce guaranteeing pay if they get coronavirus or are required to self-isolate. CS Energy Executive General Manager Plant Operations Leigh Amos said the guarantee included contract cleaners from Programmed Skilled Workforce (PSW) who worked at CS Energy’s power stations. “CS Energy’s highest priority is the health and safety of everyone at our sites - both employees and contractors,” Mr Amos said. Earlier this month CFMEU Mining & Energy Queensland President Shane Brunker accused CS Energy of using the global coronavirus crisis as an excuse to stop giving their critical cleaning 12

staff an employment contract. Mr Brunker said workers employed by CS Energy’s contractor facility manager, PSW, have gone without an employment contract since their Enterprise Agreement expired in December 2019. “Negotiations between CS Energy and PSW on a new contract have dragged on for 15 months now and we are still pending a decision on their future,” Mr Brunker said. “This is an untenable situation for workers. These people are putting their health and safety at risk every day, but they are being taken for granted.” In response to the CFMEUs allegations Mr

SURAT BASIN NEWS, Thursday, April 23, 2020

Amos said as CS Energy’s contract with PSW expired in June 2020, negotiations were underway to put a new arrangement in place as quickly as possible. “Casual contractors like cleaners who work for PSW are not our employees, but we value their work,” Mr Amos said. “It is important to remember that PSW is responsible for determining the pay, terms and conditions of employment under which it employs its workers.” Given the COVID-19 crisis cleaning staff have been carrying out extra cleaning duties at CS Energy sites over the past month, as part of the company’s response to the pandemic. TSUE01Z01MA - V2


Workers hit hard in tough times COVID-19 has delivered challenges to our resource sector never seen before. Some companies are doing the right thing by their workers but many aren’t. Certain companies are using the COVID-19 virus to increase productivity and hide behind a false statement that they can protect their employees while at work. Surat Basin companies are making their employees stay at work for 3 months straight, if they speak up they are put on the breadline, so they remain silent. Although the Federal Govt. announced the Job Seeker/Keeper packages for many workers, there are many in the Surat Basin who are facing massive uncertainty because they have been forced into casual work. They are among a pool of 1.1 million Australian workers whose casualised labour

conditions will leave them without wage subsidies in an economy that, overnight, has ceased to exist. A wage subsidy program has been a repeated demand of Australia’s union movement since the onset of isolation strategies to limit the spread of the corona pandemic began. The government, at first, and loudly, rejected the idea, but as the sprawl of Centrelink queues occupied more and more space both of city footpaths, the government position softened. But combined union demands for a wage subsidy for all workers are not met by the jobkeeper package, whose stipulations preclude any casual who has been in their job for less than 12 months from receiving the payment. There are, in fact, no industries unaffected,

because from manufacturing to fishing, real estate to postal services, there are no industries that are immune to casualisation. For their seven years in government, the Liberals have acquiesced to an ongoing business insistence that employment conditions in this country be rendered more “flexible”. They’ve encouraged award stripping, outsourcing, and the “gig economy”, as well as imposing funding cuts that have obliged public institutions – such as, infamously, universities – into hiring cheaper, casualised forms of labour. It is entirely the class of insecure worker that the Liberals have created that they’re abandoning now. The LNP has equally drawn lines around temporary migrant workers, who are presently also denied the jobkeeper payment. Australia

has one of the highest temporary worker migration rates of any of the world’s democracies – between 8-10% of the labour force. More than 900,000 temporary visa holders with work rights are residents in Australia, imported as workers by successive Liberal governments and highly “lucrative to the state of the budget” as net economic contributors. Many of these migrant workers our in our regions, working on our CSG infrastructure. Why is it in the tough times working people have to take the hit? Why do they have to suffer wage reductions, increased work rosters or worse, just so a company can maintain their profit margin? We are all in this together but it needs to be a two way street.



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HELLO, a new term of council is about to begin at Maranoa Regional Council and I have just been sworn in as mayor for another term. I believe this term’s main agenda firstly is to get the community through this extremely challenging time. The new council has an opportunity to stamp its mark as the organisation that will support residents and ratepayers and with understanding and action, we can hopefully bring our Maranoa businesses affected by restrictions, to move forward again. For the businesses not affected, you will be needed to keep the stability and confidence in our community. I also ask the people of the Maranoa to look

QUEENSLAND Resources Council has donated $2000 for care packages for seafarers, many of whom will not step off their vessels for several months to come due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The donation would fund 100 care packages with essential items to be distributed from seafarer centres in Brisbane, Gladstone, Mackay, and Townsville. Seafarers spend up to nine months at sea away from their families and due to COVID-19 that time has increased. The care packages include toiletries, reading materials and clothing which will be left at the access to the ship and picked up by crew with a friendly wave from the seafarer’s centre volunteers from a safe distance.

locally first in your local town and then other local towns in the Maranoa to help keep local businesses to stay afloat. A lot of affected businesses have changed how they do business and if you are not sure, please ring them so you can find out how you can be safe and support local businesses of the Maranoa. With online purchases, using mobile phone apps are also a great way to go contactless, retain socially distance and buy locally. Your support is appreciated if you can. My view is that we are doing well to keep our community safe and I am looking forward to a time when we can slowly get back to normal in the Maranoa.

Brisbane Mission to Seafarer’s Centre President Ross Nicholls said the pledge came at a time when seafarers needed it the most. “The funds from the Queensland Resources Council to our seafarers centres and Stella Maris seafarers centres across our state will allow us to fund purchases for our seafarers that will keep trade flowing through our ports while living in an advanced state of isolation,” Mr Nicholls said. The Queensland resources sector was committed to a ‘people first’ response to COVID19 and was strictly following the advice from Queensland’s Chief Health Officer and introducing additional measures to protect workers and the communities in which they operate.

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Critical role in securing food chain Federal Member for the Maranoa electorate and Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud gives his perspective as to why the Surat Basin is an integral region in the pandemic IT’S never been more apparent that two of the Surat Basin’s economic pillars of agriculture and mining are critical to Australia in pulling us through the COVID-19 pandemic. It was important that we moved quickly to provide confidence - particularly to the agriculture sector and those that service it - so they know what they do is essential to our nation’s security, by securing our food security. We were quick to assure workers from the tyre fitter and mechanic to the vet that they played a role in keeping our nation fed. We also moved to ensure livestock sales remained open and to ensure our food processing sector could continue right through to your local butcher and grocer; so they could

continue to supply the nation with the best produce in the world. The same can be said for the Federal Government’s $110 million initiative - the International Freight Assistance Mechanism - to export agricultural produce and have return flights bring back medical supplies and equipment. The initiative, which helps source as many air freight flights as possible to export highquality produce to our key trading partners, is the first step to kicking agricultural exports back into gear again. We shouldn’t fear the fact we are continuing to export during this crisis. We are a nation of 25 million people, we produce enough food for 75

million people, so it’s important that our farmers continue to get the best prices they deserve. On top of this, visa extensions for seasonal workers who cannot return home will ensure that Surat Basin businesses have the skills to protect their interests and maximise their profits. It is critical we manage this labour force to support the on-going health of communities across the Surat Basin. We’ve acted to include requirements to ensure visa holders follow selfisolation requirements when they move between regions. I know there has been strong interest from job ads and I welcome the announcement that we are keeping market testing requirements in

place to ensure recruitment of Australians first. Sadly, there’s been a significant number of Australians who’ve lost their jobs due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. Whether it’s an ag supply store, selfemployed individual or cafe, people have security in knowing that if their employer experiences a 30 per cent business downturn, they may be eligible for support through the $130 billion JobKeeper wage subsidy. I encourage you to visit treasury.gov.au/ coronavirus to find out more about the JobKeeper payment and what other financial support you may be entitled to, from the Federal Government’s $320 billion coronavirus stimulus.


Priority is moving forward in these uncertain times AS WE move towards the end of April, we enter into a new term of Local Government and I am truly honoured to be returned as mayor of this incredible region - the place I love to call home. This week eight elected councillors and I were officially sworn in to duty and we’ve hit the ground running to deliver certainty to the Western Downs. It’s vital the community has clear representation during these challenging times and our core priority is getting on with the job and moving forward.

Due to the current challenge of the COVID-19 health emergency, council’s focus now, more than ever, is doing all we can to steer our community through this unprecedented period in our history and keep our economy on the right track. Council has worked collaboratively with the community over previous years to build a strong, diverse economy, which is underpinned by various local businesses. As we all adapt to the current challenges, council continues to offer support to business

and in recent weeks we have partnered with the National Retail Association to deliver a series of webinars for local retailers. The specialised workshops cover a range of topics including e-commerce which could assist businesses dealing with current challenges such as servicing customers in self-isolation. This is an interactive solution that goes a long way to support our businesses and equip them with skills which could be useful to local traders not only during the current climate, but for their future business dealings too.

As a council we too have had to make some changes to the way that we do business to protect the safety of the community, in accordance with State and Federal Government health advice. However, our level of commitment to the community has not waivered, and we are continuing to deliver the high level of service the community has grown to expect. While there are many challenges ahead, council remains united and strong and we’re working hard to deliver for the region.


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TSBE’s focus: links to jobs IT HAS been a huge few weeks as the adjustments to COVID-19 have taken hold and the team at TSBE (Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise) has been working to provide support to businesses. It has been amazing how companies have reacted and put plans in place for the health and wellness of their staff and the community. We have been looking at ways we can continue to stimulate the economy by linking business with opportunity. There have been opportunities in the health sector as well as the agriculture sector and we’ve had a particular focus on finding jobs for workers in businesses who are temporarily downsizing due to COVID-19. We have created a Coronavirus support page

TSBE CEO Ali Davenport said the organisation was exploring new ways to link businesses in the region with opportunities in a way to stimulate the economy during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

on our website to provide you with direct links to relevant information for Federal and State Government stimulus and support programs. This is constantly being updated as we receive more information. I recently presented a webinar entitled Regional Cooperation in Gas Economies for the Petroleum Club of WA on behalf of Brighter and spoke about how the gas industry has driven diversification and growth of the regional economy in the Surat Basin. The audience was interested to hear how the rural townships within the Surat Basin had experienced significant changes over the last 11 years since the introduction of CSG

development in the area and that most locals agreed the region was better off than before the gas development. The level of acceptance and cooperation within the community is high compared to other parts of Australia that don’t have any gas developments. TSBE hosted a webinar with industry experts aimed at providing information for exporters in both food and agribusiness and oil, gas and resources to discuss how to manage risks and target opportunities during COVID-19. This webinar was a great opportunity for exporters to clarify how best to manage change and take advantage of the opportunities in this

rapidly changing world. TSBE is running a number of webinars so please check our website for upcoming online events. We are also focusing on online training to upskill staff if their job is disrupted and those details are also available on our website. Finally, despite the Surat Basin Energy Awards event on April 30 having to be postponed, nominations for the awards are still open. All businesses which have provided services into projects within the Surat Basin energy sector for coal, natural gas and renewable projects are encouraged to nominate.


Support offered to small and medium-sized business WELCOME to the April Edition of the Surat Basin News The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are being felt throughout our communities and accurate information has never been more important. Between Annastacia Palaszczuk announcing the closure of Queensland’s borders via Twitter, and her Labor Government’s bungles on boating and licenced weapons dealers and armourers, it is easy to lose the forest for the trees. Over the past weeks the Federal Government announced a major support package for Australians impacted by COVID-19.

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Following pressure from the LNP, the Queensland Labor Government announced a $4 billion stimulus package to support Queenslanders, including limited pay roll tax relief for small and medium businesses. The Federal Government is offering support to small or medium businesses impacted by COVID-19 which includes their $1500/fortnight JobKeeper payment, tax free payment of up to $100,000, apprentice and trainee support, 50 per cent loan guarantees, Instant Asset WriteOff relief and Backing Business Investment initiative. The Federal Government has a Business Hotline 13 28 46 providing support

from specialists to small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic seven days a week. Further information on the Federal Government’s support for small and medium businesses can be found at treasury.gov.au/ coronavirus/businesses. Sole Traders impacted by Coronavirus should test their eligibility for the Federal Government’s income support payments, early access to superannuation and the support being offered to small and medium businesses. Further information can be found at treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/ Fact_sheet-Support_for_sole_traders.pdf

Individuals and households are being offered support through several avenues, including income support and free childcare. For more information visit treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/ households To keep up with the most current information from the Federal Government, I would encourage you to visit www.australia.gov.au/ For information on Queensland’s response visit www.qld.gov.au/ In these difficult times, remember to be kind, stay safe and stay home. Until next edition

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which has delivered a blow to local economies. “We are helping businesses to create a unique value proposition and accelerate their commercial outcomes; especially at a time like this, we need to have a component to help with resilience, diversify business models, and find new ways into the market,” he said. “It takes all different sized companies to make the industry work and a lot of major resources companies wouldn’t succeed without the inputs and support they get from our regional, smaller companies. “This program gives them a chance to test and validate their new business ideas by running them by experienced industry mentors and taking them to a place that will be successful and have a paying customer.” The first online METS Accelerator sessions have had promising feedback, according to Mr

Masefield, but he is not ready to call it an outright success. Mr Masefield said the program’s outcomes are yet to be seen and he expects to see the results long after its conclusion, when new ideas are coming to fruition in the resources industry. “(METS Accelerator’s) success is yet to be proven and I think it will depend on the uptake by our participants,” he said. “Once we have them completing the program and then see what their outcomes are after attending, that is when we know whether it has been a success. “In our feedback from the first session, participants said it was great value, worth the investment of their time and they learned a lot from the industry mentors. “So from that aspect it has had an early success, but the real proof comes in six to 12

months time when we find out if people are developing new ideas and have found a customer, or have commercialised their new business model and have found success within the mining industry.” METS Accelerator sessions are held each Tuesday from 9am. Anyone with interest in the Surat Basin resources industry can register online at startuptoowoomba.com.au/miradarling-downs/ Sessions three to seven each have a specific focus, and will run on the following dates: • April 28: Business models and pipeline • May 5: Legal Considerations of IP and negotiating • May 12: Brand, marketing and communications • May 19: How to craft a winning pitch • May 26: Online demo day


CONNECTING small local business to experts in the resources industry was always the ultimate goal for the METS Accelerators program, and had everything gone to plan, it would have been a travelling show, drawing a large crowd to their business workshops. But the COVID-19 outbreak threw a spanner in the works. Travel plans had to be cancelled, public gatherings were no longer allowed and the team behind METS had to scramble to find a new way of mentoring eager resources entrepreneurs of the west. In just a few weeks, they turned their resources industry workshops into a series of online classes presented through video conference program Zoom and organiser David Masefield has been surprised by its early popularity. Mr Masefield said adapting to the challenges presented by COVID-19 has changed his program for the better and allowed it to reach even more people over the first two sessions, held on April 14 and 21. “We had original plans to do a roadshow to Roma, Miles, Dalby and Wandoan, running sessions to help local businesses enter the resources sector and then a large accelerator event with a big cohort in Toowomba,” he said. “Obviously with everything that has happened, it wasn’t possible for that to go ahead, so we turned METS Accelerator into a virtual roadshow, with a few different companies dropping in. “We have turned it in to weekly sessions of seven workshops, which anyone can virtually attend if they are in the mining, energy, resources or renewables sector, or if they have an idea that might translate in to them. “So the problem we had with COVID-19 has actually turned in to an opportunity to open the program to more participants who can come in remotely.” METS Accelerator is a joint initiative of five groups: Orio Jam, Startup Toowoomba, Canvas Coworking, METS Ignited, and the Queensland Government. The program is aimed at helping businesses which are looking to enter the resources industry, particularly in the Surat Basin,and boost their outcomes - something Mr Masefield believes is even more vital during the pandemic,


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Surat Basin News April 2020  

Surat Basin News April 2020