An inquiry into the recent spate of suicides among fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers in Western Australia is increasingly likely after a parliamentary motion introduced by Labor won Liberal backing.
Labor had called on the Education and Health Parliamentary Standing Committee to look into the reasons behind nine deaths over 12 months.
Three major unions have also issued a joint statement supporting an inquiry.
Committee chair and Liberal MP Graham Jacobs said he wanted to begin an inquiry as soon as possible.
His Liberal colleague and fellow committee member, Rob Johnson, said the motion should receive parliamentary support in the coming week.
“I would be absolutely staggered if any Member of Parliament would vote against a motion such as this,” he said.
Mr Johnson said the inquiry could look at whether resources companies could do more to address the issue.
“Look this is not a mining company bashing exercise, not by any means,” he said.
“I’m actually in favour of having the opportunity for people to be able to fly in, fly out.
“But what we must do; I think as a Parliament, we do have an obligation, as I’ve said, to try and ensure the safety of all Western Australians.”
Nine suicides in 12 months ‘a crisis’: AMWU
Mr Johnson said the inquiry would look at how FIFO workers could be supported.
“We’re not so much looking at the reasons behind the suicides, I think most people know a lot of the reasons, they can be manifold,” he said.
“What the committee would I think need to do, we need to try and look at ways to try and assist people in that industry to alleviate any possibility of them considering suicide.”
In a statement calling for the inquiry, WA state secretary of the Australian Metal Workers Union (AMWU) Steve McCartney said nine suicides in 12 months could only be described as a “crisis”.
“But even that tragic figure fails to capture the full extent of the FIFO lifestyle’s disruptive impact on Western Australian families,” he said.
“The FIFO industry is a vital and growing part of the WA economy, making it even more important to understand the challenges and long-term impacts of the FIFO lifestyle.”