Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Unemployment to Rise - Time to Cut Migrant Worker Programs

The rapid increase in Australia’s migrant worker programs over the past decade has been justified with the claim that Australia is short of workers.

This claim is now clearly false. The latest unemployment rise, along with the certainty of job losses at Holden, Ford and Qantas, and projections that the resources industry construction workforce will collapse over the next 4 years, shedding more than 78,000 jobs by 2018, make this clear.

We are now being told that the jobless rate will rise within about 18 months to 6.25% from the current 5.8%, and stay there through to the end of 2016-17!

This means more Australians will be out of work than at any time during the past decade, and far more than during the Global Financial Crisis, when unemployment peaked at 5.9%.

Last month unemployment increased by 3,400 to 712,500. Surely we must give the over 700,000 Australians who are out of work, and the Holden, Ford and Qantas workers who are going to lose their jobs, our priority.

We should reduce both the permanent migrant worker program and the temporary migrant worker programs to the levels they were 10 or 20 years ago. That way the jobs that will be created in the next 5 years will go to Australians who are out of work, or who face losing their jobs.

If we are fair dinkum about reducing unemployment, and fair dinkum about increasing workforce participation, we will cut migrant worker programs and build and use the skills of out-of-work Australians.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Support Domestic Australian Meat Industry

The recent diplomatic disagreement between the governments of Indonesia and Australia and the prospect of Indonesia moving away from live export from Australia, is more evidence of the need to support domestic processing rather than live animal export.

As I have said previously, live export is not only a failure of ethics, it is a failure of economics. One of Australia's biggest cattlemen, Jack Burton, has failed to get support from the Federal Government for investment in onshore processing to reduce the industry's dependence on live exports.

Mr Burton said he had been trying unsuccessfully for several weeks to speak to Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce about Government support for an abattoir in the Kimberley. His Yeeda Pastoral Company, which has about 60,000 cattle on seven stations covering about 1.2 million hectares, is building a $20 million abattoir with capacity to process about 50,000 cattle a year between Broome and Derby. Mr Burton wants to expand the project with Government backing in preference to selling off more equity to overseas investors.
With the industry concerned about the fallout from the Indonesian situation Australia needs to diversify itself, away from live export to a chilled meat trade that will create jobs in the struggling manufacturing sector. Minister Joyce should accept Mr Burton’s request to speak about this economic opportunity.