Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
This song from the hippie ‘60s by Pete Seger reminds me of the present: where have all the workers gone?
Every industry seems to be suffering a shortage of workers. Perhaps they became too used to the largess handed out during COVID. Yet it is perplexing to note that we are experiencing record low unemployment. So, what’s happening?
Are there simply more jobs, or are they using statistics? I am still finding restaurants so desperate for staff they need to limit their opening hours. There is a shortage of truck drivers, nurses, teachers, and I can go on.
You would think that having low unemployment would be extremely good for the economy, although I understand that the present Reserve Bank governor appears to disagree and thinks we would somehow be better off with a higher unemployment rate.
I accept that many of the people falling within the “unemployed” are probably not people you would choose to have as employees. A significant proportion of the population has no desire to do the menial jobs anymore. I think the changing face and races of our taxi drivers are a fair indication. We are, of course, not alone in this. You only need to go to most restaurants or hotels in the UK, France, and other European cities to find them staffed with either Eastern Europeans or people from the African continent.
It follows that we need to increase our migration. Australia has benefited greatly from migration, adding to our diversity, skills, culture, and, thank God, food. My mother’s cooking, while best intentioned, was appalling.
The situation is somewhat curious in that there would seem to be an undisputed need for migration, although, of course, many of our unions would claim otherwise, suggesting that jobs should be primarily for Australians (whoever they may be). The question is, where are they?
We’ve recently had changes to our immigration system however, fundamentally we need talent, skills, capital investment, and business acumen ... if you take a cursory glance at the different categories of migration, it’s basically a minefield. It’s time for simplification. In addition, it is time to overhaul our visa system.
Another rather inconsistent policy, is the apparent determination of government to make investing in property in Australia as difficult as possible to a point where it becomes no longer economically viable for foreigners. There is an impost of an additional eight per cent of stamp duty, and now there is also an additional 4.3 per cent annual land tax to be paid on the value of all land exceeding $50,000.
To me, the issue comes down to this. In the past we have seen foreign investment assist in the construction of many blocks of apartments. In due course, we’ve seen those investors eventually withdraw as their children leave or their circumstances change, and it becomes available for Australian housing stock. Now, it seems that while the government is telling us on one hand there is an extreme shortage of housing, on the other they are also providing a disincentive to foreigners to assist in building new housing stock. •
If you find this all rather confusing, join the club.