NEW RESIDENTS: Stefan and Alicia Patterson and their son Nikalus with Cr David Schefe.
NEW RESIDENTS: Stefan and Alicia Patterson and their son Nikalus with Cr David Schefe.

APLNG agreement a success for Yuleba’s newest residents

LEAVING his young family for two weeks at a time was becoming increasingly difficult for one production worker at Origin's Reedy Creek facility who said he was missing out on the chance to watch his son grow up.

Stefan Patterson, his wife Alicia and one-year-old son Nikalus are Yuleba's newest residents under the newly introduced agreement between APLNG and the Maranoa council that was designed to encourage gas workers to live locally.

Months of negotiations about the continued existence of APLNG's camps at Reedy Creek and Bungaroo came to a head in December, with the council striking a deal with the gas giant for several of the company's production workers to become local residents.

Being the first worker to move rural under the new agreement, Mr Patterson said it was the "perfect" solution.

Previously living in Coonarr near Bundaberg meant Mr Pattern would work two week sints without seeing his family

"Saying goodbye for two weeks felt like I was putting stress on Nikalus. Now I get to go home every night and watch him grow up," he said.

"Also living in Yuleba if there's issues at home, they're not hard to rectify. Being closer is a lot better. If anything happens I'm close by, whereas before if anything happened, what could I do? I was seven hours away."

Now only a half-hour drive from home, Stefan - who has been working at Reedy Creek for three months - said there's no better feeling than being able to come home every night to his son waiting for him at the door.

"Yuleba has a really nice community. It hasn't been too difficult integrating at all," he said.

"And Origin has a very strong employee focus and is a family friendly company to work for, so it's really good to have that support."

The agreement is the first of its kind for the region and is tipped to create an annual $10 million windfall for the local economy.

Maranoa councillor David Schefe said the deal marked a pivotal turning point for the council's relationship with APLNG and Origin, the upstream operator.

Maceon Cooper, Origin's General Manager for Reedy Creek said he's encouraged by Stefan's positive attitude and the smooth transition Stefan's family have experienced.

"We are committed to regional communities and having a strong, collaborative partnership with council," he said.

"It's great to see our workforce integrating into the community as residents."

Cr Schefe said the Yuleba development group was ecstatic that they've had one family that has chosen to move there.

"The key part of the agreement was that workers would be able to commute to and from work," he said.

"We're all rapt to know that Stefan will get to be home with his family every night as so much time and effort went into the negotiation."

Cr Schefe said alongside the estimated $10 million boost to our economy every year, each new local household will help to generate another .3 of a job through the additional services being utilised.

"The target is production workers as they are a workforce that remains relatively stable moving forward, 12 months of the year," he said.

"The pipeline construction in 2010-12 was really disruptive to our economy, as these come and go massive fluctuations can do a lot of damage," he said.

"So rather than having that boom and bust in the local community, we know that production will provide us constant growth."

Another benefit is set to be a financial contribution from APLNG until the agreed upon 78 workers and their families have become local residents. This support includes community project funding for projects in Wallumbilla and Yuleba.

The agreement also provides incentives to encourage workers to become residents, encourages more short-term stays with local accommodation providers, and encourages flexible working arrangements to encourage a residential lifestyle.

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