Downer gets the all-clear on indigenous job ads

A QUEENSLAND tribunal has confirmed contract mining powerhouse Downer Mining is able to discriminate in its advertising to ensure it meets its targets for hiring indigenous workers.

Downer made an application to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal to be exempted from the state's anti-discrimination laws so it could bolster the number of indigenous staff at its operations.

The firm supplies labour to some of Australia's largest mining operations including a number owned by BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance in Central Queensland and the Boggabri open-cut mine in the Gunnedah Basin of northern New South Wales.

With just 4% or 214 of its more than 5000 workers having indigenous backgrounds, Downer was keen to specifically aim roles at the indigenous community.

There would be six sites where the top applicants would begin in trainee positions as machine operators.

Downer already sets indigenous employment targets each year, which it has exceeded since 2010.

When heard by QCAT in February, the case was dismissed.

The tribunal found Downer did not need any exemption to the laws because it was promoting equal opportunity which was allowed under the law.

A spokesman for Downer said the company was pleased the issue had been clarified and would now set about increasing indigenous participation in its workforce.