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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 2 Hansard (8 March) . . Page.. 425..


Employment—skilled migrant workers

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (10.40): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) acknowledges that the chronic skill shortages suffered by Australia have caused governments and employers to employ new tactics in filling skilled vacancies;

(2) recognises:

(a) the Federal Government's continual starving of training funds and the creation of questionable apprenticeship schemes has done little to alleviate this skilled crisis; and

(b) that the employment of skilled migrant workers, one of the strategies engaged by employers in Canberra, can be beneficial to both employee and employer if the fundamental principles of worker and human rights are upheld;

(3) congratulates the ACT Government for its Skilled and Business Migration Program and its other endeavours in attracting skilled workers to the region;

(4) believes that the employment conditions of skilled migrant workers must undertake monitoring to ensure the rights, entitlements and safety of these workers and that such scrutiny should fall to the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs; and

(5) calls on the Federal Government to immediately put in place greater mechanisms to ensure that the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs properly monitors the arrangements between employers and contracted skilled migrant workers.

On Monday, the Chief Minister announced that 21 business organisations had come on board the ACT government's campaign to attract skilled workers into the ACT. This campaign, the live in Canberra campaign, is a public-private partnership strategy to encourage workers from specific interstate areas to migrate to Canberra because of the many benefits that life in Canberra has to offer.

I am very proud of Canberra. I have happily spent my 50 years here, most of those 50 years as a worker in one form or another. For me, the idea of selling the Canberra lifestyle is an effortless task. However, for businesses in Canberra the task of selling our way of life, of recruiting workers to Canberra, verges on necessity. The reason, quite simply, is that there is a chronic shortage of skilled workers.

Skills shortage is not a problem limited to Canberra; it is an issue facing Australian businesses, large and small. The problem affects all tiers of government and requires strategies such as the live in Canberra campaign. Not only is it far reaching; it is also a significant problem for both businesses and governments. The Business Council of Australia has described the skills shortages as a brake on development. The Australian Industry Group has reported that more than half of the manufacturers report difficulty hiring skilled workers. An Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry economic


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