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Controversial worker accommodation project delayed
Australian Portable Camps has been asked for more information about its plans to house migrant workers in a camp-style facility at Monarto South.
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What kind of life will migrant workers have if they live in a converted mining camp at Monarto South and work in the factory next door?
That was one of the questions raised at a meeting last month about a plan by Australian Portable Camps to house its workers on-site.
The company plans to install several of its transportable buildings just off Ferries-McDonald Road for employees to live in.
It already uses temporary housing to accommodate long-haul truck drivers who deliver to the facility.
Managing director Frank Martino said the lack of shops or services in the surrounding area was not a problem – workers would be supplied with a daily bus service into Murray Bridge, and a communal area where they could play pool or darts.
In any case, what was the alternative?
The region was in the grips of a housing crisis, and there were simply not enough rental properties around for workers to live in.
That was especially true for migrant workers who might only be granted visas for six months at a time.
Mixed reactions from neighbours
Three residents told the panel they opposed the plan, as it would not fit in among the agricultural and industrial properties on Ferries McDonald Road.
One stormed out of the meeting at the Murray Bridge council office, saying it was a “f***ing joke”.
Three more submissions were in favour but had reservations about things like noise, stormwater, lighting and fencing.
Another two were totally supportive; one even suggested expanding on the idea by using temporary buildings to reduce homelessness, something the state government has already committed to do.
Three submissions were rejected by the panel for being too late or failing to explain themselves.
Panel delays its decision
The Murray Bridge council’s assessment panel ultimately voted to delay making a decision to seek more information.
Panellist Myles Somers said there were “fundamental issues” with the application that still needed to be addressed.
Tony Huppatz said the facility was needed for the sake of APC’s workers, despite the “very limited amenity” it would offer to them.
A bit more landscaping would help, he suggested.
But Marc Voortman said APC needed to supply more information about its plans.
“I don’t think this application is ready,” he said.
“There are some valid concerns raised by representors that I’d like to see addressed.
“In my mind, the land use is appropriate; it’s the details and the particulars of how that’s managed on-site.”
The panel of four development experts and one councillor will discuss the proposal again at a future meeting.