Free visas for international travellers could stem staff shortages in resources sector, says peak body
Free visas could help combat skill shortages in the State’s mining industry, according to the Chamber of Minerals and Energy.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week announced a visa application fee rebate for international students and backpackers coming to Australia.
Under the announcement, the $630 fee for international students would be waived for the next eight weeks, while the fee for backpackers would be covered for the next 12 weeks.
CME chief executive Paul Everingham said the rebate would provide an incentive during a “skills squeeze” for many industries, which he said could flow into the resources sector.
“International entrants are likely to react positively to initiatives like this visa rebate, which will remove one of the potential barriers associated with travelling to Australia,” he said.
“The backpackers among them will provide an important labour source for the agricultural, retail and hospitality sectors in particular, which may in turn free up other workers to pursue opportunities in mining.
“Many of the students, meanwhile, will be studying subjects that will equip them with knowledge and skills that will very much be required by our sector, both in the short and longer terms.”
Mr Everingham said opening the State’s borders on February 5 would also be a critical step in stemming the issues caused by skill and worker shortages.
“WA’s mining and resources sector could face a shortfall of 40,000 workers within two years if left unaddressed,” he said.
“The reopening of borders into WA on February 5 will be a very important first step towards alleviating some of these skills pressures, providing access to labour pools interstate and overseas that industry has traditionally been able to call on in times of need.”
On Wednesday, Mr Morrison said the new measures would apply to 23,500 backpackers and 150,000 students who had already put in an application to come to Australia.
“My message to them is come on down, “Mr Morrison said.
“We want you to come to Australia and enjoy a holiday here . . . move all the way around the country.
“At the same time, join our workforce and help us in our agricultural sector, in our hospitality sector, and so many of the other parts of the economy that rely on that labour.”
The incentives will be supported by a $3 million Tourism Australia campaign with the application rebates of backpackers and students overseas to be processed through the Home Affairs Department.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails