Fill jobs that are ‘backbone of every community’
“Jobs jobs jobs” was the catchcry of Mark McGowan in the lead-up to the last election.
What Mr McGowan didn’t realise then, and still doesn’t now, is that in many regional areas it’s not job creation that we need but people to fill the vacancies that already exist. I’m not talking about temporary, highly paid mining and construction jobs. I’m talking about the jobs that are the backbone of every community: the hairdressers, cleaners, chefs, bartenders, restaurant wait staff, the newsagent, childcare workers, nurses, teachers and doctors. These are the people who transform towns into communities. Many towns in WA have job vacancies in these areas with no one ready or willing to fill the positions. The result of businesses not being able to get staff ? They close. Towns stagnate. People move away.
We need to bring people to the regions and a Designated Area Migration Agreement is a sensible and suitable option to do this. As mining ramps up again, drawing service workers to higher-paid, short-term jobs, we need new people to fill the void. We need to attract people who are passionate about their work, committed to staying in their chosen field of employment and willing to become active members of the community. Implementing a targeted DAMA could assist in helping our regions grow.
There seems to be two schools of thought on DAMAs within Labor ranks. We have Alannah MacTiernan, the Minister for Regional Development, saying: “The program would benefit the local skills shortage and give migrants a gentle introduction to Australian Life”. Labor Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Kyle McGinn has said: “We don’t need to start seeking workers from overseas.”
I implore the Government to sit down, talk to the communities and devise policies that support our regional towns.