08/04/2009 - 22:00

CME urges recovery plan

08/04/2009 - 22:00

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THE Chamber of Minerals and Energy says government and industry should use the current slowdown to plan for Western Australia's development once the economy returns to full strength.

THE Chamber of Minerals and Energy says government and industry should use the current slowdown to plan for Western Australia's development once the economy returns to full strength.

Released this week, the CME's recent 'Growth Outlook' report examines three different scenarios for the future of WA's key growth enablers - water, energy and people.

CME chief executive Reg Howard-Smith said access to capital had superseded labour shortages as the biggest threat to growth in the next 12 to 24 months, but that even under the worst-case scenario there would be an upswing in 2011.

"We are saying, let's sit down with state and federal governments and work out a long-term plan for WA," he said.

Shortages remained, he said, despite a fall in demand for labour, particularly in the professional areas critical to project planning.

"For a long time ... the drop-out rates were higher than we would have liked, because of the attraction to the mining industry," Mr Howard-Smith said.

"It's a good time to retrain because the demand for professionals is still there."

In response to the skills shortage, CME has called for changes to the sub-class 457 visa approvals process to make it easier for companies to access the expertise they need to complete projects.

"In contrast to the eastern states we say keep the 457 visas," Mr Howard-Smith said.

The chamber has also advocated streamlined housing approvals in the Pilbara to offset shortages.

"One of the key issues up there is residential land release. The land is not available at the required pace for residential development," he said.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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