Fairfield City Mayor Frank Carbone is calling on the Federal Government to rethink its decision to bring in an extra 40,000 skilled migrant workers, lifting the annual intake to up to 200,000 migrants, and instead look after current residents first.
Most of south west Sydney has unemployment rates of 10% or more (10.6% in Fairfield City) which is more than twice the Greater Sydney average of 4.7% and three times the national average of 3.5%. The average wage in south west Sydney is $620, almost $200 a week less than the NSW and Australian average.
“While Australia is enjoying low unemployment rates, south west Sydney is experiencing high unemployment, underemployment and needs more education and training opportunities to upskill the community,” Mayor Frank Carbone said.
“Bringing in more migrants is the easy option, and will significantly increase cost of living pressures including rent and housing affordability, not to mention housing availability.
“The Government should be working to upskill the people who need it most.
“With interest rates rising and high cost of living pressures, one of the impacts of interest rate increases is to slow down the economy and this will lead to the unemployment rate increasing in Australia and the most vulnerable will be hit the hardest.
“We are already seeing the impact of this, with job ads decreasing by almost 4%, the first recorded monthly fall this year.
“This will particularly affect areas in south west Sydney where the average wage is lower, so the government has a responsibility to look after its own first. I urge the Government to not turn their back on the high levels of unemployment currently in many parts of Australia including south west Sydney.
Residents in western Sydney should not be competing for higher paid jobs and suffering from the cost of living pressures that a 200,000 migrant intake would cause.
“Some of the areas of employment that are seeing shortages are administration and support, hospitality, household trade and real estate. Surely the government could focus on upskilling current residents in areas of high unemployment.
“This might be an issue for some areas of Sydney where they are struggling to get a coffee at their favourite cafe, but we are concerned about better jobs, better pay, and lower cost of living.
“We urge the Federal Government to engage with south western Sydney leaders in relation to the job skills summit. After all, we are the ones who understand the local issues and represent the community that will feel the pain if unemployment and low wages are not addressed. We will also feel the pain of the higher cost of living that comes with the higher migrant intake such as higher rent, housing and competition for goods and services.
“Of course health care workers are an urgent requirement and we agree that the short term solution is to bring in more skilled workers in this area, but 200,000 new migrants in a year is just too much.
Mayor Frank Carbone has also criticised the government for holding its job summit in Canberra instead of a more appropriate location like south west Sydney.
“The jobs summit should have been held in south west Sydney and the issue of traineeships and upskilling of current residents should have been the priority, not increasing migrant intake numbers” he said.