23/10/2007 - 22:00

Sensible solution to people shortage

23/10/2007 - 22:00


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There is a lot of debate about whether the state government is doing a good enough job to manage us safely through this current boom.

Sensible solution to people shortage

There is a lot of debate about whether the state government is doing a good enough job to manage us safely through this current boom.

It’s easy to list a number of shortcomings that have initially affected business and, increasingly, the state’s population.

For instance, property developers were the first to feel the effects of inadequate government responses to development approvals. But this emerged later as a consumer problem in the form of housing affordability.

This is, perhaps, the most obvious example, but if you want keep the boom rolling, every time government impedes a sector of the business community it is ultimately going to hurt the populace in general.

Of course, much of this is masked in a boom, with business so desperate to make hay while the sun shines that they’ll find ways to do things that may not have seemed possible in leaner times.

So with the government being attacked for failing to respond, I’ve thought about what the real solution to all these problems might be.

In the end, it’s got to be people.

As we’ve discussed so many times in this paper, many of the government issues relate to its own problems in finding people to do the jobs that business and the community want.

Regrettably, the answer lies in importing people. However, from my point of view it’s not regrettable that we are in this situation; it’s regrettable that both our state and federal governments don’t have the will to come up with a plan to solve Western Australia’s acute people shortage.

Sure, the state will tell us it has sought to bring people in. But that’s from over east, New Zealand or the UK. These are obvious places to look, but they already know about us.

If they wanted to come, they’d be on the plane already. No, the solution lies in other places that are far less politically palatable.

While we need to be cautious about who we let into this country in terms of their background and motivation, they ought to be the only reasons we hesitate to bring in people who are skilled and willing to come to Australia.

Like the thousands of students who come to this country every year to study, there’s no reason why we can’t have an efficient system that allows people to work here under strict conditions that ensures they are legitimately here for employment.

The argument that they are somehow taking someone else’s job is ludicrous. Why do we need to advertise in Victoria or attend trade shows in England if we have workers waiting for jobs here?

Unemployment is also considered low in these regions and, perhaps, the incentives just aren’t good enough to encourage people to move.

Compare that to India, where an IT expert gets paid one quarter what they would here. Why not let them come and work here?

Just by arriving they do more than solve our problem, they drive up demand and fuel other parts of the economy.

If they turn out to be good people, why not let them stay?

It might seem like safe thinking to preserve our population growth, but the reality is that we need more than modest increases to fully reach our potential.


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