Cry for help as country communities face job crisis

WALKING down the main street of Blackwater, you are confronted by countless empty shopfronts, and in the suburbs, countless empty houses, according to Peter Lyon.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union spokesperson shared his concerns at a Labor Fair Work Taskforce hearing in Rockhampton on Thursday following reports that more than 300 coal mine jobs are at threat after BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) said it would outsource work at its Blackwater mine to contractor Downer.

Mr Lyon said losing 300 workers would effectively see the loss of up to 300 families from the already struggling Blackwater community.

"I hope Blackwater will survive this but a lot of the little communities out there are just slowly withering on the vine, you can see it happening," Mr Lyon said.

"Houses that were fetching $1 million are now selling for $150,000 so obviously the people that have bought those over a period of time have now been burnt really badly and are saddled with the debt for the rest of their life.

"You lose a few kids out of the school and you automatically lose a teacher's aid. You lose a nurse and the lady up at the servo might go. It'll just flow through the community, it's just devastating."

Mr Lyon called on the Abbott government to take action.

"They need to stand up and say 'you need to employ permanent people'," he said.


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