Concerns prompt meeting with backpacker accommodation industry

Backpacker accommodation providers met with Burdekin Shire Council yesterday (June 4, 2014) to discuss whether a voluntary code of practice for operators should be formulated after a recent application triggered community concern.

Council’s Planning and Development Manager Shane Great said the meeting was arranged after Council had become aware of concern among residents with regard to this type of accommodation.

“There had been some concerns raised and Council wanted to speak with people in the industry to identify whether there was anything Council and the industry could do to help address these concerns,” he said.

“It was a very informative meeting and we have learned that most of the working backpacker accommodation suppliers in the Burdekin have strict rules in place which must be followed by backpackers staying there.

“This is great because it means the industry already has an informal code and often it is premises other than backpacker accommodation that are creating negative sentiment among the community.”

Mr Great said there were many positives to encouraging working backpackers to stay in the Burdekin.

“Backpackers come here to work during the mango and vegetable picking seasons, so they are helping our farmers who can’t find enough workers and also boosting our economy,” he said.

“While they are in the Burdekin, they are spending some of the money they earned picking here. They are shopping in our shops and supporting our local economy.”

Mr Great said the meeting had identified the issue of backpackers staying at the Home Hill Comfort Stop as one that need to be addressed.

“This is something Council will have to look into and ensure the Comfort Stop is used for the travelling public, not working backpackers who are staying there for any length of time,” he said.

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