The number of skilled occupations open to people from abroad wanting to make a new life in the state of Western Australia are set to be cut drastically.
The state’s current skilled migration occupation list has been closed while a review is undertaken. Western Australia’s new Premier Mark McGowan said he will limit the number of jobs available to foreign workers.
McGowan has written to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull requesting that the city of Perth be removed from the Regional Skilled Migration Scheme [RSMS] which offers foreign workers a path to Australian permanent residency.
Under RSMS if a foreign worker is offered a full time job by their sponsor where there is deemed to be a genuine need for skilled overseas employees they can gain residency and almost 5,000 were hired under the scheme in the 2015/2016 financial year.
McGowan confirmed that the review of the current list of 160 occupations where the state needs skilled foreign workers will be subject to extensive cutbacks to the number of professions on it.
It is thought that engineers, electricians, bricklayers, nurses, and mechanics could be taken off the list, which has not been updated since 2014.
‘Obviously we need skilled doctors, we need haematologists, we even need pastry chefs. But some of those other occupations obviously should be removed. We need the list to reflect the reality that tens of thousands of West Australians are now out of work,’ he said.
‘This is about putting West Australian jobs first, it is about making sure West Australians get the opportunities for jobs in our state,’ he added.
He has the backing of Labour Party leader Bill Shorten who pointed out that a changing economy meant it was time to tighten temporary work programmes. ‘Perth’s inclusion in the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme reflected the huge demand for workers during the peak of the mining boom. Those times have passed and it’s time it changed,’ he explained.
However, previous state Premier Colin Barnett is against the changes and said that the overhaul pf the list would deprive regional areas in particular of specialists such as doctors.
He claimed that the number of people arriving in Western Australia from overseas was typically only about 1,000 a year and the new policy would mean turning away people who could became valuable Australian citizens.