Budget fails to address regional worker and accommodation shortages

Shadow Minister for Commerce, Tourism, and Government Accountability and Member for North West Central Vince Catania has described the State Budget as ‘disappointing and deficient in some key areas in urgent need of assistance’.
Mr Catania said despite our State being in a very fortunate position with a record $5.6 billion budget surplus while living through a pandemic, the Government still failed to address ongoing and dire
situations stifling businesses and communities across WA.
“The devil is in the detail once you peel back the layers within this Budget and you’ll find despite an enormous bank balance, many gaps and areas of need have been ignored by the Labor Government.
“If the borders stay closed for as long as the Premier is suggesting, many businesses will continue to suffer and the shortage of workers and workers’ accommodation will escalate.
Mr Catania said the State Government needed a creative strategy to find safe and clear pathways into our State from interstate or overseas to urgently address a critical issue that had been growing for months.
“With essential and seasonal workers locked out, immediate solutions around the G2G passes, vaccinations and quarantine processes need to be found before the full impact of this situation hits the hip pocket of every West Australian.
“Finding workable solutions may require the WA Government to put their hand in their pocket and share the load with the Commonwealth Government to ensure our businesses across all industries continue to function and contribute to our economy.
“Staff and accommodation shortages reached a critical point for businesses across regions months ago, with operators working very long days, being physically exhausted and mentally fatigued and unable to meet demand – which is affecting their operations, income, health, and well-being.
Mr Catania said those lucky enough to find workers were struggling to house them, particularly in locations such as Exmouth, Coral Bay, Shark Bay, Kalbarri, and Broome.
“Campgrounds are still overflowing, and houses are demanding higher and unaffordable prices or have been moved to the short-term rental market to meet visitor demand.
“Business owners have recognised the need to keep everyone safe while enduring associated financial and physical challenges during the pandemic – but those efforts are being pushed aside by a
Government unable to foresee the potential fall-out of a storm that’s been brewing for some time.
“We’re still a long, long way from being close to ‘business as usual’, and it seems from the Budget the Government is reluctant to step outside the metropolitan area to fully understand the importance and time-critical need to address the issue around sourcing workers and workers accommodation.
“We need the WA Government to put aside politics and urgently work with all parties, industries and businesses to find safe and workable solutions, including consideration of controlled access to WA for essential workers – along with a way to house our workers in the regions.”