Moves to address skills gaps in Australia contradicted by LAFHA changes
Deloitte Federal Budget media releaseDOWNLOAD
Tuesday 8 May 2012: The Government’s Budget announcement of a targeted increase to Australia’s migration program to address skills shortages in parts of the Australian economy is welcomed by Deloitte, but risks being undermined by the significant changes to the living away from home allowance (LAFHA).
Deloitte partner and National Immigration Leader, Mark Wright, says there appears to be the absence of a whole of government approach to addressing the issue of skills shortages.
“We welcome the Government’s moves to address the needs of regional Australia in attracting skills in short supply,” said Mr Wright. “ But these moves are somewhat nullified when the government removes one of the few tax benefits available to the business community to attract and retain talent to Australia, particularly at a time when that talent is subject to fierce competition in our region.
“The business community is telling us that they expect Government to remove the barriers to growth, and help them inject much needed stimulus to sectors of economy. The factors which now drive the mobility of labour worldwide are complex, and cut across many different areas of government regulation. It’s nonsensical to make a decision on removing a tax incentive to attract and retain skilled foreign labour to Australia, in isolation from immigration policy measures to attract that same labour.” Mr Wright continued.
“We welcome the Budget announcement containing skills initiatives to attract employment opportunities in remote and regional Australia, including a $1.5 billion Remote Jobs and Communities Program aimed at providing a more integrated and flexible approach to employment for people living in remote areas,” said Mr Wright. “Importing skilled foreign labour should complement initiatives such as this one aimed at encouraging local labour participation.
“While the announcement by the Government are primarily concerned with attracting skilled labour to work in regional locations experiencing skill shortages, the government needs to understand that, for many workers, the decision to migrate to the regions comes down to a variety of factors beyond the employment opportunity itself. Lifestyle factors like proximity to services, quality of schools, homes and community activities, and the availability of public transport also play a substantial role in attracting workers to a region and keeping them there.
“The government is clearly identifying a need to support the trend of greater movement to growth regions where there is a demand for skills, but we feel it could be doing more to not only attract labour to areas of need, but also develop strategies that support the growth of skills and employment in the local area.”