Lack of local content blamed for rise in WA unemployment

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A lack of local content contracts awarded to WA businesses has been blamed for a sudden jump in unemployment in the state.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics unemployment rose from 4.0 to 4.4 per cent in August, with 5000 more people without work.

They were the worst figures in seven months, but despite the rise WA remains well below the national rate, which rose to 5.3 per cent.

UnionsWA secretary Simone McGuirk said the figures proved there was no need to increase foreign and interstate workers.

She said the Government needed to work harder to ensure local companies were more involved in mining projects.

“We’ve got ongoing demands by employers to bring labour into some parts of the state but we’ve got over 50,000 people who want work,” she told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“Unless we make sure that we’re paying attention to other things going on, not everyone is going to benefit from the boom that’s happening in the resources sector.”

Last week the WA opposition’s proposal to set a minimum level of local content in mining projects, the Skilled Local Jobs Bill, was defeated in parliament.

Opposition treasury spokesperson Michelle Roberts said the state government was ignoring areas of the economy outside mining, and sectors such as manufacturing were suffering because of it.

However state treasurer Christian Porter said the latest unemployment figures indicated WA was doing better than most of Australia.

On Monday the Immigration Department released new guidelines allowing mining and infrastructure companies to hire low skilled migrants who were previously denied permission to work in Australia.

The move was designed to help solve the on-going skills shortage problem in the mining industry.

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