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Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard says WA needs more migrants amid claims hundreds of thousands of extra workers are necessary over the next decade to thwart a labour crisis.

Speaking at a Perth business breakfast hosted by _The West Australian _and Murdoch University, Ms Gillard said both interstate and international migration was needed to help fill future job vacancies.

It comes as employer groups warn labour shortages are set to hit within months.

Ms Gillard said WA also needed to better utilise its youth market, which was suffering a 10 per cent unemployment rate.

She blamed the labour problem partly on the booming resources sector which was drawing workers, infrastructure and services away from rest of the economy.

“That’s why we need to properly analyse and assess all claims about the West’s needs in the decade or so ahead, including claims about the need to attract hundreds of thousands of new workers,” she said.

“There’s no doubt more interstate and overseas migrants will be needed, but we need to look also at how we can achieve better results with the assets that are already available and underused.

“With a youth unemployment rate of almost 10 per cent, there is more work to be done to create the pathways that will give these kids a future.”

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry said labour shortages would hit in the second half of this year, with WA needing an extra 400,000 workers in the decade from 2007. Based on current population trends, there would be 150,000 shortfall.

CCI supports strong migration to alleviate the skills shortage, which threatened to curb WA’s economic growth during the last boom.

The WA Group Training Scheme, which last year sacked some apprentices because of reduced work, said there had been a quick economic turnaround and expectations of boom-level demand this year.

Ms Gillard said an expanded training initiative announced yesterday, creating 11,000 advanced level training places nationally, would help address some of the skills shortage.

Ms Gillard, who heads to the Pilbara today to inspect the $43 billion Gorgon project, warned unions not to engage in unlawful industrial action, singling out the construction union’s Kevin Reynolds and Joe McDonald. “We have got no tolerance for people who seek to break the rules and I am well aware there is a concern in this State over the propensity of some individuals to believe they are beyond the law,” she said.

Mr Reynolds said he was not surprised at being singled out by Ms Gillard over unlawful industrial action, claiming the pair had an adverse relationship. He said migration should be a back-up with the focus on training. 

Ms Gillard said an expanded training initiative announced yesterday, creating 11,000 advanced level training places nationally, would help address some of the skills shortage.

Ms Gillard, who heads to the Pilbara today to inspect the $43 billion Gorgon project, warned unions not to engage in unlawful industrial action, singling out the construction union’s Kevin Reynolds and Joe McDonald. “We have got no tolerance for people who seek to break the rules and I am well aware there is a concern in this State over the propensity of some individuals to believe they are beyond the law,” she said.

Mr Reynolds said he was not surprised at being singled out by Ms Gillard over unlawful industrial action, claiming the pair had an adverse relationship. He said migration should be a back-up with the focus on training.

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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Thornlie’s tree man Richard Pennicuik has ended his 110 day protest and climbed down from the 20m-high eucalyptus melliodorain on the front verge of his home.

Mr Pennicuik has been living in the tree outside his Hume Road home since early December, including during Monday’s devastating hail storm that swept across Perth and caused more than $200 million damage.

The City of Gosnells wants to remove the tree, claiming it poses a danger.                                                                                                                

Mr Pennicuik claimed he won the moral battle before doing a lap around the tree and heading inside his home to have a shower.

He initially released a four paragraph statement, but re-emerged to speak to reporters, saying he felt great.

“The tree weathered the worst storm to hit Perth ever and it’s in good condition, it has proven itself,” Mr Pennicuik said.

“It is worth it because we have shown the people of Australia they need the constitution, they can’t do without it.

“I think I have (proven my point) I think the tree has.”

City of Gosnells Mayor Olwen Searle today welcomed the Mr Pennicuik’s decision to come down from the tree, but confirmed the council would go ahead with plans to chop it down.

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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West Australians expect the biggest pay rises of any workers in the country, believing the global recession is over and the mining boom has arrived.

A report by Westpac has found 14 per cent of West Australians expect a pay rise of at least 8 per cent over the coming year, while another 21 per cent think they’ll get a rise of between 4 per cent and 8 per cent.

It is the highest proportion of workers in any State who think they will be rewarded with a wage rise two or three times the rate of inflation.

And in a sign of the confidence of WA workers, just 0.4 per cent of those surveyed say they will have a pay cut – the lowest proportion of any State. By contrast, more than 6 per cent of South Australians fear they will have their pay cut while just 19 per cent expect a pay rise of at least 4 per cent.

More than 35 per cent of those aged between 18 and 24 expect a pay rise of at least 8 per cent compared to less than 10 per cent of people aged 55-64. While 35 per cent of respondents who earn more than $100,000 a year expect at least an 8 per cent rise, less than half of those earning under $40,000 expect any pay rise.

CommSec chief equities economist Craig James said that despite signs of optimism, Australian consumers were increasingly conservative. While household disposable income had grown almost 8 per cent last year, close to the fastest rate in 19 years, consumer spending had lifted just 2.2 per cent or the slowest in 16 years.

“And then there is the news that 70 per cent of Commonwealth Bank home loan customers are ahead in their loan repayments – making higher repayments than they need to,” he said. “How long this new conservatism continues remains anybody’s guess.”

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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Real estate hotspotsan average 34.4 per cent every year since 2000, compared to a national suburban average of 9.9 per cent for houses, and 8.1 per cent for units.

WA metropolitan home-owners appear to be the biggest winners in the country, with Perth accounting for 11 of the suburbs in the top 20 growth areas.

The other areas in the top 20 are Jindalee, Bertram, Hammond Park, Wattle Grove, Aubin Grove, Butler, Carramar, Darch, Sinagra, and Beeliar.

Only units in Oaksdown in Greater Hobart enjoyed slightly higher capital gain at 34.6 per cent, but house prices were highest in Perth’s semi-rural Herne Hill in the Swan Valley.

Local Elders Real Estate agent Ian Henry said prices started to skyrocket in 2005, after years of sluggish growth.

He said the area had wineries, breweries, top restaurants and café culture, while at the same time offering the benefits of a country lifestyle, such as tight-knit community and big blocks of land.

The city was only 20km away, and major shopping centres such a Morley Galleria.

“It seems like Perth only really discovered the Swan Valley a few years ago,” Mr Henry said.

He said growth had been sluggish this year, as in most areas, but was expected to pick up again next year.

The RP Data report said the top growth suburbs around the nation were mostly situated on the outskirts of cities.

“This is largely due to the fact that in most instances pricing has come from a very low base ten years ago,” said the report.

“Undoubtedly new development has helped boost prices in many of these areas.”

The report said that it was unlikely that these areas would enjoy the same level of capital growth over the next decade.

Top Ten Growth areas:

1. Oakdowns, Greater Hobart, unit – $275,000(median price) (34.6 per cent increase in 10 years)

2. Herne Hill, Perth, house – $595,000 (34.4 per cent)

3. Jindalee, Perth, house – $600,000 (33.3 per cent)

4. Bertram, Perth, house – $383,000 (33.3 per cent)

5. Blairmount, Sydney, house – $327,000 (33.3 per cent)

6. Hammond Park, Perth, house – $485,000 (33.1 per cent)

7. Beecroft, Sydney, unit – $520,000 (32.7 per cent)

8. Gunn, Darwin, house – $464,000 (32.7 per cent)

9. Wattle Grove, Perth, house – $450,000 (32.6 per cent)

10 Gardenvale, Melbourne, unit – $328,000 (32.4 per cent)

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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WA will be able to handpick permanent migrants to service the booming resources sector and other areas of critical need under a massive overhaul of the skilled migration program to be unveiled today.

Under the changes, Immigration Minister Chris Evans will revoke and refund 20,000 applications from would-be skilled migrants and instead give top priority to those who are sponsored by employers and States for high-level jobs.

The overhaul is geared towards making Australia’s skilled migration super-responsive to urgent shortfalls in qualified mining and health sector workers, while also tightening permanent visa criteria for overseas students studying courses in low skill occupations.

Senator Evans will immediately abolish the Migration Occupations in Demand List, which gazettes 106 areas of preferred workers, replacing it by April with a more targeted Skilled Occupations List drawn up by the independent Federal authority Skills Australia in consultation with the States and business.

It means doctors, nurses, engineers and high-value professions and trades will have priority over low-skilled workers such as hairdressers and chefs.

In WA, as yesterday’s Olivier Jobs Index showed, the most sought after workers are in engineering, trades and services, and building.

In a marked departure from the existing skilled migration scheme, States will be asked to draw up their own migration plans to allow fast-tracking of applications for migrants sponsored by States or companies for specific jobs.

The bar will be raised for unsponsored skilled migration applicants, with criteria such as proficiency in the English language, work experience and overseas qualifications to be made tougher.

The overall annual skilled migration intake will remain unchanged at 108,100 people.

The changes are likely to have a significant impact on the burgeoning multi-billion-dollar overseas student market where hundreds of thousands of foreign students have come to Australia to undergo trades training, enticed by the prospect of permanent residency.

The Government believes such courses are skewing the migration program, leaving new permanent residents with poor English and little prospect of finding work in their nominated field of expertise.

Foreign students in Australia studying in areas dumped from the new skilled occupation hit list will be given 18 months after completion of their studies to find sponsorship from an employer or sent home.

The Government believes the new regime will help the clampdown on unscrupulous migration agents, many of whom are Indian-based, who con students into believing completion of an Australian course gives automatic entitlement to permanent residence. 

The bar will be raised for unsponsored skilled migration applicants, with criteria such as proficiency in the English language, work experience and overseas qualifications to be made tougher.

The overall annual skilled migration intake will remain unchanged at 108,100 people.

The changes are likely to have a significant impact on the burgeoning multi-billion-dollar overseas student market where hundreds of thousands of foreign students have come to Australia to undergo trades training, enticed by the prospect of permanent residency.

The Government believes such courses are skewing the migration program, leaving new permanent residents with poor English and little prospect of finding work in their nominated field of expertise.

Foreign students in Australia studying in areas dumped from the new skilled occupation hit list will be given 18 months after completion of their studies to find sponsorship from an employer or sent home.

The Government believes the new regime will help the clampdown on unscrupulous migration agents, many of whom are Indian-based, who con students into believing completion of an Australian course gives automatic entitlement to permanent residence.

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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The City of Perth Australia Day Skyworks is the State’s biggest annual celebration.                                                                                            

The spotlight is on Perth as we celebrate our beautiful country with the biggest and best Australia Day event in the country.

With warm weather expected and activities running from 7am to 8.30pm, here are some tips for enjoying the day:

o Plan your journey: Transperth will be providing additional train and bus services for Skyworks and Skyworks coordinators encourage everyone to plan their journey to the City in advance by visiting www.transperth.wa.gov.au  

Also, due to unusually low tides, Transperth will be unable to operate the ferry services from the first trip in the morning till 12.30, therefore these Australia Day ferry services will be replaced by buses.

o Stay hydrated: While free drinking water tanks and food stands will be conveniently located throughout the Perth foreshore, please remember to keep up your water intake. Dehydration can lead to dizziness, nausea and other symptoms that might spoil your day.

o Bring a radio: Obviously, a radio will allow you to enjoy the simulcast fireworks display at the end of the day, but additionally, you’ll be able to get updates throughout the day on parking, road closures and other important news from City of Perth Skyworks partner MIX 94.5.

 A torch: Why let the pyrotechnicians have all the fun? Be part of the traditional torch ‘call and response’ from each of the main viewing areas and see why Perth is known as the City of Lights!

o Plan your day: Australia Day in the City is far greater than the 30 minute pyrotechnic display at 8pm. Catch the train in early and enjoy the range of free entertainment on offer. The Too Solid Indigenous Music Festival, the Youth Zone on Langley Park, the Criterium, the Family Zone on the Esplanade, the AIR BP Air Show and the Water Show are just some of the many highlights of the day. Visit the Australia Day program of the www.perth.wa.gov.au/skyworks  website for more information.

o Community spirit: The City of Perth Australia Day Skyworks is a major community event, with all of the presenters working closely with some unsung heroes – Fire and Emergency Services, Police, and the St John Ambulance first aid volunteers. Let’s make this a celebration to be proud of and get into the spirit of the day!

What not to bring:

o Alcohol: The City of Perth Skyworks is an alcohol-free event. The City of Perth fully supports the efforts of the Police and the Public Transport Authority to stop anti-social behaviour at the celebration by confiscating alcohol at the event.

o Bad behaviour: Although the vast majority of Skyworks patrons enjoy the celebrations without incident, the organisers believe that everyone should be able to enjoy the Australia Day celebrations in the way they are intended – as a community, and as proud Australians. All of the authorities involved with Skyworks support a “no tolerance” approach to anti-social behaviour during this major Australia Day celebration.

o Glass: Broken glass has been identified as a significant cause of injuries at previous Skyworks. Please do not bring glass bottles or containers – it is very hard to clean up all the pieces if they break, especially in grassy areas or in low-light conditions, and families with children will be sharing the public spaces with you.

 Furniture: Both the City of Perth and the City of South Perth have Special Event Local Laws which limit people from bringing couches, mattresses, fridges or other large objects into event areas. This does not apply to lightweight shade structures or other picnic equipment which can be easily carried by hand. These laws are designed for public safety and prevent illegal ‘dumping’ – please respect the beautiful environment of the areas around Perth Water.

http://perth.wa.gov.au/skyworks/

Source  :  http://www.cityofperth.wa.gov.au/web/Media-Centre/?article=363

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WA’s peak parent group has slammed a plan to test pre-primary students next year as a waste of money, saying it’s “ridiculous” to assess children as young as four.

As part of its strategy to improve literacy and numeracy across WA, the Education Department will start to roll out the 30-minute assessments in the first term in public schools. The Sunday Times can reveal some of the sample questions likely to be used in the so-called “on entry assessments”, which are aimed at picking up early problems.

Pre-primary students in public schools will be asked to: Speak about a certain topic, such as friends or favourite games, for two to three minutes. Estimate how many teddy bears are in a cup. Put objects, from smallest to tallest, in order. Count backwards. Match dots with a number on a page.

WA Council of State School Organisations president Rob Fry attacked the $2 million plan, saying he expected parents to be angered by the “ineffective” results.

“I just find this truly remarkable when you’re dealing with children of such a young age,” he said.

“If you get an exceptionally shy child, you’re asking a four-year-old to talk on a subject for two minutes and some of them won’t want to say anything at that age. Does that mean they’ve got a literacy problem? No, they might be shy.

“It’s ineffective and you are going to get such diverse responses between a child coming from an indigenous community to a child living in a Perth suburb with a highly socially active family.”

School Support Programs executive director David Axworthy said the Education Department based its tests on the Victorian model because it was the “best tool to meet the needs of WA children”. It would also enable shared resources between the states.

“It will leave WA well placed for the introduction of the national curriculum when it is produced in 2011,” he said.

WA Primary Principals Association president Steve Breen supported the plan because it would allow teachers to set benchmarks and adapt their programs to suit children’s needs.

Education Minister Liz Constable said children at risk of falling behind would be identified earlier, allowing urgent action to be taken.

Under the plan, students in 50 schools will be tested in term one before all public schools will have access to the assessments in the final term. From 2011, each pre-primary student will be tested at the start of the year.

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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