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Highway workforce statistics released

Roads and Maritime Services has released two reports, which quantify workforce statistics and projections for the Port Macquarie to Coffs Harbour and Woolgoolga to Ballina sections of the Pacific Highway upgrade, respectively. The Pacific Complete report on the Woolgoolga to Ballina section found that there is “an adequate number of existing accommodation options, services and facilities to support the estimated influx of non-local workers”, into the region. Meanwhile, Clarence Valley Council, as reported in last week’s Independent – ‘Workforce camps on the agenda’ – has lodged a planning proposal to amend the valley’s local environment plan (LEP), to address the likely need for additional workforce accommodation for the highway upgrade, including the Harwood bridge, as well as other projects: the Grafton gaol, Grafton Bridge, the Sportsmans Creek bridge at Lawrence and the new supermarket at Maclean. Pacific Complete has predicted that the “155 kilometre upgrade … is estimated to generate approximately 2,500 direct jobs during the construction phase”; and that “the project aims to source one third (833) of these jobs from within the local population, while two thirds (1667) of the workforce [is] likely to temporarily relocate from outside the area”. Among its conclusions, the report states that “Pacific Complete is not proposing to establish any camp or tourist-park accommodation developments”, however, the report acknowledges that the Woodburn (276 beds) and Evans Heads (400 beds) bowling clubs “are progressing proposals for two accommodation villages”. The report found that there is “a total of 179 accommodation options and approximately 1,376 available beds” in Grafton and surrounding districts; and that there are 418 available properties “offering approximately 2,731 beds” in Yamba and surrounding districts. Pacific Complete has developed a strategy “to limit workforce private vehicle movement on the Pacific Highway” by developing “a Park and Ride bus system from central locations, including Grafton, Maclean and Ballina”. Meanwhile, the statistics, compiled from a survey of the “2,603-strong workforce” on the Port Macquarie to Coffs Harbour section of the highway showed that there had “not been a need for dedicated temporary worker accommodation”. The survey’s findings were based on answers from 993 respondents and include: • More than half of respondents … have worked on other sections of the Pacific Highway upgrade; • About two thirds of respondents … relocated to work on the project from 100 kilometres or further; • Just less than half (42.97 percent) of respondents who relocated … had a family or partner …with them, [and] many partners … also work in road construction; • The most common … family structure was … a couple with children, [with] 446 persons (45.51 percent) saying they had a partner and children; • Almost one quarter responded that they never go back to their usual home on weekends; • It is a young workforce … with just over half … (51.67 percent) aged between 20 and 39; • Almost three quarters of the workforce (72.35 percent) will work on the upgrade for one to three years; • About two thirds (65.40 percent) of construction workers rent their accommodation; • About 72 percent of respondents who relocated … rent their accommodation, compared to 52 percent of respondents who already lived in the area; • In terms of health, educational, cultural and recreational services used by construction workers … the main service workers use is health services; • Local respondents generally are travelling further to their project sites, and more own the property in which they live; • Nearly 30 percent of respondents said they were thinking of permanently relocating to the area they are working in. The reports can be accessed here: