Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan yesterday met with major tourism operators in the Kimberley region to discuss the possibility of employing temporary workers from East Timor.
The proposal to tackle the unskilled labour shortage follows an historic agreement signed between the State Government and East Timor in February, aimed at helping East Timor to manage and plan major infrastructure projects.
Ms MacTiernan, who travelled to Dili in March for formal discussions with the East Timorese Government, said a common theme underlying those meetings was the lack of basic skills development to provide the foundation for a modern economy.
The State Government proposal involves hiring workers from East Timor to work for a period of six to nine months, providing much-needed labour for Western Australia and skills development for the East Timorese workforce.Minister's Office - 9213 6400
“In the Kimberley, like many locations in Australia, there’s an extreme labour shortage in horticulture and tourism - industries which cannot compete with the wages offered in the mining sector,” the Minister said.
“We see a real opportunity to address this issue and at the same time, offer a genuine contribution to the development of the East Timorese workforce.
“Working abroad would not only provide basic skills to the workforce, it would broaden the outlook of those participating in terms of the requirements needed to operate effectively in the modern world.”
Ms MacTiernan said the response from industry representatives in the Kimberley was overwhelmingly positive.
“Many hospitality and retail businesses have had to close their doors as a result of the unskilled labour shortage,” she said.
“This program provides a win all round and we’re currently working with the Federal Government to discuss these short-term employment opportunities.”