Towns and regional centres with relatively small populations, existing workforce shortages and limited local housing will need to host hundreds and sometimes thousands of new workers to support alternative energy construction projects. Governments and industry don't really understand the difficult trade-offs for local communities with alternative energy projects. Without community support, chaos may well ensue.
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.