Workers From Poor Nations Flood West Australia

Workers from poor nations flood WA
26th September 2006, 8:00 WST
The West Australian

WA now accepts more skilled migrants from non-Western countries than from Western nations, according to new statistics which provide the first snapshot of Australias booming migration program.

The figures revealed that the number of workers from non-Western countries who moved to WA as skilled migrants soared from 890 in 2004-05 to 2840 in 2005-06. The number of migrants from Western countries rose at a much lower rate, climbing from 1420 to 2350 in the same period.

There were a further 920 migrants who could not be classified, taking the total number of skilled migrants moving to WA in the past financial year to more than 6000. Those figures exclude families who move with the workers.

The statistics, released by Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone, showed most migrants were well paid and employed primarily in the boom industries of mining, construction and manufacturing.

Senator Vanstone said the average salary for skilled migrants in WA was $70,000, which was higher than the national average of $66,000.

But UnionsWA secretary Dave Robinson said the trend was worrying and showed that employers were favouring workers from low-paid backgrounds who could be more easily exploited into accepting wages below industry standard.

There is a real push for workers from developing countries as opposed to developed countries because they can more easily be exploited with low wages and inferior conditions, he said.

And its a real problem that we are plundering skilled workers from developing nations which are also suffering from the skills shortage.

The biggest pool of migrants to WA was from Britain, followed by the Philippines, South Africa, China, India, the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Indonesia, Ireland, Malaysia, Germany, Korea, Japan and Zimbabwe.

WA Small Business Minister Norm Marlborough said the release of the information by the Federal Government was too little, too late.

He said Senator Vanstones failure to reveal which regions the migrants were settling in was undermining the State Governments attempt to properly plan infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, for the population boom.