There must be more to border management than keeping WA’s mining operations going, writes Brent Fleeton.
In the first week of January we've seen lots of suggestions as to how Western Australia could look to manage COVID in 2022.
Between former Australian Medical Association WA branch president Andrew Miller and other medical professionals, there's no shortage of vague medical objectivity when it comes to the science behind protecting our state.
What seems to be lacking in any comments or advice I've read is a true appreciation of just how complex and diverse Perth’s economy is.
We are more than digging up rocks.
There must be more to border management than keeping WA’s mining operations going.
So much damage has been caused by this state government to businesses which employ hundreds of thousands of Western Australians, these same businesses which could be doing so much more for our economy and the state if we had more supply with minimal risk.
When I say supply, I mean people.
Tourism, hospitality, events, retail, education, arts, culture and many other sectors and their supply chains have all suffered unnecessarily because any information the government gets on the subject with “latest health advice” stamped on it makes it unquestionable.
Just look back to last week leading up to New Year’s Day.
The ambush by the state government on Perth’s hospitality and events industry just a few days before their biggest trading period was as unjust as it was unnecessary.
But it was based on the “latest health advice”.
As was the green light for the following day’s Perth Cup.
I know a few electricians, plumbers, security guards, casual workers, and event organisers who’d like to see the advice and understand why their elected representatives didn’t stand up for them.
The compensation package announced won't cover a fraction of what was lost.
We have elected representatives at the head of the decision-making tree to ensure all factors are taken into consideration, including those well outside the purview of what just one department believes is the best course of action.
After all, I’m sure a few doctors would love to see a sugar tax implemented and McDonald’s banned.
Is McGowan considering these based on the latest health advice?
We must always have this accountability at the top of the tree so the welfare of those affected by the decisions is taken into consideration.
This goes into protecting the unseen fabric that binds our city together.
You can’t see it on the spreadsheet downloaded from the Australian Bureau of Statistics every quarter.
But it’s there and it’s being eroded with every poor decision made.
Sentiment, trust, morale. I genuinely fear for Perth’s vulnerability in 2022 if we keep up this approach to COVID management.
Who would want to open a shop right now in Perth?
Who would want to take a risk on Mark McGowan flicking a switch and shutting you down? These are the signals he’s sent over 2021 leading up to 90 per cent vaccination.
Is that still the magic number or has it changed overnight?
Are backpackers illegal yet?
Once in a generation taxpayer-funded interventions like JobKeeper aren’t coming back, so we have to return to how an economy normally functions.
While the Premier/Treasurer has had the time of his life living it up on iron ore royalties, he needs a booming climate for all businesses to operate in, not just mining.
This means having a mature migration system to fast-track new employees to meet chronic demand in all trades so we can guarantee an increasing quality of life.
Overall, we are going backwards right now.
YouGov sentiment tracking of Australian capital cities showed a steep decline in Perth’s standing in the final three months of 2021.
We now sit at the bottom.
How isolated have we made ourselves?
How hard have we made it for ourselves when we need to repair this reputation?
That’s why we need to take these issues more seriously than Dr Miller would like.
Brent Fleeton is a councillor at the City of Perth, but the article is his personal opinion only and not reflective of the city or any of his council colleagues. The article has been run as it was originally written, though Business News reserves the right to edit for legal reasons.