Colin Barnett’s boast that the construction of his big inner city projects will create tens of thousands of jobs is meaningless, without a concrete plan to ensure contracts are awarded to local firms and jobs do not go interstate or overseas.
Media reports suggest Mr Barnett will use today’s Liberal Party Conference to promise tens of thousands of jobs will flow from the construction of projects like Elizabeth Quay and the new Perth Stadium.
The Premier has made sweeping statements about job creation before, only to let down local businesses and workers. Everyone remembers when Colin Barnett said Gorgon would fill up local workshops for years, encouraging them to invest in new plant and equipment and then watch as all the work headed offshore.
Back then, the Premier made big assumptions about what would happen, but lacked a detailed plan to ensure the work was performed in WA and local jobs were created.
As a result, many fabrication businesses closed their doors at a time when there was record demand for fabricated steel in the resources sector.
Now the Premier is making similar claims about his own major projects, like Elizabeth Quay and the new Perth Stadium, but these promises are likely to disappoint again if there isn’t a concrete plan to ensure contracts are awarded to local firms and the work is actually performed in Western Australia.
Mr Barnett should outline what plan his government is putting in place to ensure his big picture projects are delivering contracts to local businesses and maximising local jobs.
The interesting thing is, Colin Barnett has only talked about jobs twice in his six years as Premier. The first time, he was proved embarrassingly wrong, with terrible consequences for local businesses and workers.
What we need is a long-term discussion and long term planning about what sort of jobs we are going to have as the resources construction boom winds down.
Projects like Gorgon take thousands of people to build and only a few hundred to operate. We suspect the Perth Stadium and Elizabeth Quay will deliver even fewer long-term jobs, so we need to act now and put in place a long-term plan for job creation in WA.