THE Narrabri Gas Project may bring less jobs to the town then previously expected, with only 10 per cent of its 1050-strong construction workforce slated to be locals.
Less than half of the 200-ongoing workforce will be locals, with roughly 45 per cent coming from Narrabri or within an hour’s drive of the project.
The figures come from Santos’ 7000-page Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
At peak construction, only 105 workers will be from within a one-hour drive of the project, located in the Pilliga forest, which “will include local government areas (LGAs) like Narrabri, Gunnedah and Moree”.
A further 20 per cent, approximately 210 workers, will be from the surrounding 14 LGAs, which stretch from Dubbo to Glen Innes.
The remaining 70 per cent, about 735 workers, will come from the rest of NSW or interstate.
Local business chamber president Russell Stewart said people had to move away from the percentages and look at the number of jobs.
“A hundred jobs is a helluva lot of jobs in any country town, but if you convert that to 10 per cent it doesn't sound like a lot,” Mr Stewart said.
“Many of the positions are specialised builders or highly qualified scientific jobs.
“No country town has people like that sitting around. When you look at Narrabri and its unemployment rate, we simply can’t supply the numbers, we just don’t have them.”
However, Narrabri farmer and long-time resident Ron Campy said Santos had “led the community astray” about the number of local jobs the project would create.
“They’re trying to sell the project, what the hell do you expect?” Mr Campey asked.
“I think those numbers are inflated, I’d be surprised if there are more than 50 jobs for locals.”
The EIS also identifies the “increase in temporary non-resident male population workforce… can impact on community values”.
NSW Greens resources spokesman Jeremy Buckingham was shocked only 10 per cent of the construction workforce would be local.
“A fly-in-fly-out workforce will have huge detrimental impacts on the local community, causing local inflation, housing shortages and anti-social behaviour,” he said.
“Fly in, fly out practices exacerbate the worst parts of the boom and bust cycle. These admissions shows this project is all about profits for Santos and likely to be a net negative for the community.”
When approached for a comment, Santos referred The Leader back to the EIS, which states “local contractors and suppliers will be used where possible”.