State Govt cold on Pilbara migrant jobs push

Tom ZaunmayrNorth West Telegraph
VideoThe Morrison government is considering a plan for new migrants to spend five years in regional areas. Sunrise discuss

Two heads of Pilbara local governments have urged the State Government to shift its focus towards attracting people to live in the region, rather than pushing its local jobs policy.

Concerns of another skills shortage in the Pilbara have been growing over the past year, and local governments have been pushing for a designated area migration agreement to address the problem.

Speaking at the 2018 Pilbara Conference, City of Karratha chief executive Chris Adams said there was little need to focus on job creation, as there were already plenty of jobs on offer in the Pilbara.

“Karratha today has three times more jobs than Bunbury, it has 10 times more jobs than Midland, and 20 times more jobs than Busselton advertised today,” he said.

“We simply don’t have enough people to fill the jobs we need.

“The DAMA is a Federal Government initiative and they are supportive of a Pilbara agreement, but at this stage the State Government has not indicated its support.”

Shire of Ashburton chief executive Rob Paull said population was a significant hindrance to growth.

“Having population is imperative and I think Onslow is a good example of that,” he said.

“We believe there is scope to significantly increase the population in Onslow by moving away from FIFO.”

A State Government spokesman said it did not support such an agreement at the moment.

“The priority of the McGowan Government is to place Western Australians first when it comes to securing jobs in Western Australia,” he said.

“For this reason, the State Government does not support a Pilbara DAMA at this stage.”

Chamber of Minerals and Energy WA chief executive Paul Everingham said migration was the secret to success of nearly every regional town he had lived in.

“Italians and Greeks built Darwin after WWII, Germans were critical to the success of Alice Springs, and Mediterranean’s were critical to the success of Perth and the South West,” he said.

“This idea that Australia is full is disproven by full employment in the Pilbara.

“We should be completely open to larger scale migration, particularly in regional areas.”

Mr Everingham said the CME WA had been working with Kalgoorlie on a similar migration agreement.

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