Transcript - Incentives for People to Move to WA - 6PR

Manager of People Strategies Bruce Campbell-Fraser chats with 6PR's Paul Murray about encouraging people to move west.

PAUL MURRAY

We all remember the debate when we had when the Gillard Government released this new plan to try to encourage people to move to the areas of Australia where they most want jobs and what the Government has done is to offer the people $9,000 to relocate.

I remember the discussion that we had, most people took the view that $9,000 wouldn’t be enough inducement for people to relocate. Interestingly, the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations has just released its figures on how effective that was. The figures show that only 53 people have taken up the offer to move to Western Australia. Now when you consider that our workplace shortages, our workforce shortage, are being counted in the tens-of-thousands, and all the $9,000 inducement has been able to deliver is 53, it would probably be a big disappointment to those people in Western Australia who really do need new workers.

Now, Employment Participation Minister Kate Ellis is saying she still thinks the program’s got merits, on the basis of what I don’t know, in fact, apparently only 299 people are, were encouraged to go from the Eastern states up to Queensland, which is far less of a hike than relocating to WA, so even Queenslanders wouldn’t think that it was a sparkling success. She’s quoted in The Australian today saying this: more people are signing up to our Connecting People with Jobs program and are taking up the opportunity to move to the North of Australia and to the oil and gas resource rich States where workers are in demand. Well, I don’t know more, I mean 53 might be more, but it’s not many more.

Bruce Campbell-Fraser is Manager of People Strategy at the Chamber of Minerals and Energy, they’ve got a huge interest in this policy. He joins us now, g’day Bruce…

BRUCE CAMPBELL-FRASER

G’day Paul.

PAUL MURRAY

Is it too early to say it’s a dud?

BRUCE CAMPBELL-FRASER

Those numbers are really just a drop in the ocean in terms of what we need. We are drawing people increasingly so on FIFO rosters from the Eastern States we estimate our FIFO workforce from the East is about five-and-a-half to six-thousand people. So people are choosing to reside in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and undertake work in the resource sector rather than relocate.

PAUL MURRAY

So, would you think that we could fill all of the need on a fly-in fly-out basis?

BRUCE CAMPBELL-FRASER

I think companies are managing their workforce needs through things like FIFO, they are drawing other people who aren’t necessarily accessing that program the Commonwealth Government are running, who are relocating. We’re currently seeing about 10-12 per cent of population growth coming from interstate migration, which his pretty high historically. It was only in 2003 we were actually losing people in terms of interstate migration, so we’re now growing interstate migration by about 10-12 percent, which is still pretty low numbers when you look at other States, and I think it shows the reluctance of the Australian people on the Eastern States to understand what’s going on in Western Australia and what a great place to live it is.

PAUL MURRAY

Well I suppose if they can get the benefit of the higher wages on a fly-in fly-out basis and stay with their families without relocating, you can understand that’s an attraction to families. In some ways the State Government, you know Bruce, might be happy about the lack of success here because if people relocate here they immediately put a drain on WA infrastructure, the kids have gotta go to schools, their gonna drive cars on the roads, etcetera, etcetera, so, this might actually be, you know, in people’s best interests.

BRUCE CAMPBELL-FRASER

Yeah, although population growth’s good for economic growth as well, it drives residential construction and retail growth and other things, sure it does put pressure infrastructure and services but I think we’re seeing that anyway. Our population, we’ve been the fastest growing state since 2007, probably driven on the back of activity in the resources sector, but it’s certainly been growing that way and I think everyone would acknowledge that things are just a little bit busier, particularly around the city. Yeah, but I think we will still chase people, we’re chasing a skilled workforce and we’ll take them from wherever we can get them.

PAUL MURRAY

I though the $9,000 just instinctively at the start was too low, have you got a feeling for what would be, you know, the right amount of money to, to, induce someone to move here?

BRUCE CAMPBELL-FRASER

It’s really horses for courses, I think some people if they’re currently unemployed and don’t have access to money to pay for relocation expenses or they’re joining a company that doesn’t actually put a lot of effort into assistance for relocation. I think you’ll find most companies are willing to assist people, for the right person, to bring them across. So the Commonwealth program is really a supplementary one, rather than this sort of first port of call for people. So while they’re small numbers, I think it’s improved from recent years, it was sort of single figures a year or so ago. So things are looking up for it, but it’s really a supplementary program to things that companies and others are already undertaking.

PAUL MURRAY

Yeah, well that puts it into perspective, good on you Bruce…

BRUCE CAMPBELL-FRASER

Thank you, Paul.

PAUL MURRAY

Beauty. Bruce Campbell-Fraser, Manager of People Strategy at the Chamber of Minerals and Energy.