The Shadow Treasurer Dr Steve Thomas said today that the Premier’s call this week to increase skilled migration to Western Australia completes the backflip he started in 2021, finally reversing his 2017 decision to slash skilled migration.
“In 2017 one of Mark McGowan’s first acts in Government was to ask the Federal Government to remove Perth from their Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme” Dr Thomas said.
“At the same time, he slashed the number of jobs on the skilled migration list from 178 to just 18.”
“Both of these actions were designed to keep foreign workers out of WA.”
The 18 occupations that were left on the skilled migration were all medical occupations, including nurses, general practitioners, and medical specialists.
However, all construction and industry occupations were dumped.
Dr Thomas said that the Government finally recognised the folly of this action when it reversed the decision in 2021.
“The McGowan Government had to acknowledge that their skills policy was a dud by opening the skilled occupation list back up,” Dr Thomas said. “134 skilled occupations were put back into the list in 2021 from ‘high demand industries’.
“By then the skills crisis was so obvious the Government was forced to conduct a “skills summit.
“In addition, in August 2021 the Premier wrote to the federal Department of Home Affairs requesting an additional 5,000 places under the State nomination program,” Dr Thomas said.
“It was also not until 2020-21 that the McGowan Government saw any significant increase in local training through apprenticeships and training packages.”
This week the Premier has been calling for the Commonwealth Government to ramp up skilled migration.
“Just as the mining boom starts to correct the Premier has opened the door for skilled migration and boosted local training,” Dr Thomas said.
“There are now over 300 occupations in total covered under the WA Skilled Migration Occupation Land Graduate Occupation List and apprenticeships and traineeships have finally risen.
“Just think how well we would be performing if these conditions had existed since 2017!”