More FIFO flights call made

Taelor PeluseyBusselton Dunsborough Times
Cr Paul Carter wants more mining companies to use the Busselton-Margaret River airport.
Camera IconCr Paul Carter wants more mining companies to use the Busselton-Margaret River airport. Credit: Taelor Pelusey

Busselton’s first fly-in-fly-out councillor hopes to see Busselton-Margaret River Airport become a central transport hub for the South West’s massive mining workforce.

It would be the first FIFO-focused push for Busselton City Councillor Paul Carter, who took a role with mining giant BHP Billiton last year and was this week given permission to attend committee meetings remotely.

While the idea is still in the early stages, Cr Carter told the Times he wanted to facilitate discussions with more mining companies and encourage them to fly in and out of Busselton.

“It would mean people can spend more time with their families ... and could help with fatigue,” he said.

“And it wouldn’t just be Busselton; it could benefit people from all over the South West.”

Currently, the only mining company to fly in and out locally is Rio Tinto.

The company’s Busselton FIFO program has been in place since 2007, and at the 10-year mark, Rio estimated its South West workforce to be about 700 employees and local investment to total hundreds of millions of dollars.

With the South West among the fastest-growing regions in Australia and WA believed to be on the brink of another mining boom, Cr Carter — who sits on the airport advisory committee — was optimistic more companies would consider using the Busselton airport.

In the wide-ranging interview, the former business owner and real estate agent said he never pictured himself in mining but could not deny the industry’s economic benefits.

“It’s taking workers away from the regions, but they’re coming back and putting that money right back into the community,” he said.

“It helps us prosper.”

Cr Carter was elected to council in 2015 after campaigning on a platform of jobs and economic growth.

The fourth-generation Busselton resident also sits on the economic development committee and is chairman of the audit committee.

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