Bosses across the Northern Territory have used the cover of ‘skills shortages’ to lobby the government to build a second quarantine facility at the former detention centre Bladin Village – 50 kilometres from Darwin – for the exclusive purpose of flying in foreign workers and students:
The NT Farmers Association and Hospitality NT want to use Bladin Village — a former detention centre 50 kilometres from Darwin, previously known as Wickham Point — to help bring in foreign workers for industries including agriculture, hospitality and construction.
They say the facility could also be used to quarantine international students who wish to study in Australia…
The facility has the capacity for more than 1,400 people and, under the NT Farmers’ proposal, it would be run by the Federal Government, with states and territories contributing to operational costs.
Industries would pay $2,500 per person for the 14-day quarantine period…
Hospitality NT is backing the NT Farmers’ proposal for Bladin Village, with CEO Alex Bruce saying he hopes it will help his industry solve a 7,000-worker shortage.
Here’s a novel idea: if these businesses are struggling to find workers they should offer higher pay. None of these roles are ‘skilled’ and all could be filled by the resident workforce with a little training.
The notion that the Northern Territory is experiencing acute worker shortages flies in the face of the Territory’s abysmally low wage growth of only 1.6%:
If labour shortages are so acute, then why aren’t wages rising as employers compete for staff?
And why is the Northern Territory’s labour underutilisation rate still so high?
Clearly, the notion of widespread labour shortages has been dreamt up by employers to coerce the government to open the immigration floodgates. Because having ready access to cheap foreign workers is an easy way to cut back on labour costs and remove the need to provide training.
The business lobby is right to insist on expanding the nation’s quarantine capacity in low risk locations like Bladin Village. But this capacity must be reserved first and foremost for the tens-of-thousands of Australians still stranded abroad.