The McGowan Labor Government came to power promising to prioritise local workers for local jobs. Yet this has proven to be spin. Now the government has completed a total backflip by asking for Perth to be re-classified as ‘regional Australia’ so that foreign workers and students with working rights can move here more easily.
This policy backflip is particularly unjustifiable given the present state of the WA labour market. WA’s unemployment rate is already higher than the OECD average. The local labour under-utilisaton rate is dismal, particularly among the youth demographic. Local graduates can’t find work. Wage growth is stagnant. My own electorate has some of the worst rates of youth unemployment in Perth.
Certain business groups lobby for higher immigration and population growth because it means cheaper labour, more consumers and more demand for real estate. The rest of us pay through lower wages, more job competition, more expensive housing, increased congestion, overloaded services and infrastructure and increasingly-unrecognisable suburbs. It is a form of lemon socialism – the benefits are privatised while the costs are borne by the existing population.
By turning up the immigration tap, WA Labor has shown that it’s no friend of local workers.