Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria)– My adjournment matter this evening is for the attention of the Premier, and it is in relation to the state government’s plan to seek Geelong’s inclusion in a program that uses temporary skilled migration to address labour shortages. In November 2012 the then Premier, Ted Baillieu, wrote to the then federal Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen, asking for the population threshold of the regional migration agreement to be changed to allow the City of Greater Geelong to participate. The program facilitates increased labour flows to regional areas experiencing acute labour shortages, in particular regions that are isolated from large populations and do not have Australian skills and labour available.
Since this government came to power in 2010, the people of Geelong have seen Geelong’s unemployment rate skyrocket to rates constantly above the state’s average. We know there have been significant job losses from factories, retail outlets and various other industries in Geelong, with little response from this state government. It has been under this government’s watch that we have seen jobs lost at Ford, but of course there will be significantly more in 2016; Qantas’s maintenance arm at Avalon Airport; Dick Smith retail stores; and Hungry Jack’s. We had Elsworthy’s electrical retailer close last week. We have had job cuts at Target, Godfrey Hirst, Air Radiators, Queenscliff Marine Discovery Centre, Quiksilver, Boral Concrete, Marand Precision Engineering, and the list goes on, not to mention the forced job losses at Gordon Institute of TAFE and hundreds of public sector job cuts in the region.
However, instead of addressing these issues currently faced by the Geelong community, the government has chosen not to have a job plan or a job creation scheme for the region, and instead it has been seeking that Geelong become a migration work zone for overseas workers to fill job vacancies.
The action I seek from the Premier is for him to clearly state to the people of Geelong what the state government’s current position is to including the region in the regional migration scheme, and if he is pursuing this, for him to explain to the people of Geelong the exact reasons for that decision, particularly given that there is an increasing number of people unemployed in Geelong, not just in the blue-collar and manufacturing sectors but also in white-collar jobs, in the retail sector and right across the board. It seems preposterous to me that any government would be pursuing such a position, particularly in the Geelong region.