Looming skills shortage demands a smart tax solution

Businesses that attract sought-after workers from interstate and permanently resettle them in WA should be rewarded with a tax break from the State Government, according to the Property Council WA.

In the lead up to the state election in March, the Property Council is calling on political parties to adopt a two-year payroll tax rebate for employers able to attract and permanently relocate interstate employees in key demand categories – such as construction – identified as crucial to WA’s economic performance.

Property Council WA Executive Director Sandra Brewer said skills shortages in Western Australia’s property industry were beginning to bite, slowing the state’s economic recovery and risking future growth.

“The property industry is always in fierce competition for labour with other sectors, like mining and infrastructure. But this year, more than ever, our state’s recovery and growth will be powered by property,” says Ms Brewer.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Western Australia recorded 37,400 job vacancies in November as businesses tried to catch up on hiring that stalled as a result of COVID-19.

“Relocating high demand workers from the east coast can offset labour cost pressures and act as a circuit breaker in our boom-and-bust economy,” Ms Brewer explains.

Under the Property Council’s proposal, the payroll tax rebate would be paid retrospectively to employers after an employee has lived in WA for two years.

“Our state’s economic success will be dependent on a skilled workforce. Policies that not only attract but retain skilled interstate migrants will benefit all sectors of the economy and support steady and sustainable growth,” said Ms Brewer.

“Even in good times, WA depends on workers from other parts of Australia and overseas to fill skills gaps. COVID-19 has exacerbated existing skills shortages, and there are clear signs we are at capacity.”

Work is expected to start on 18,500 new homes across WA this year, fueled by Government stimulus programs, however, Treasury data published earlier this year has revealed that West Australian new work commitments have slowed.

“The federal government’s HomeBuilder scheme and the State Government’s building bonus, have been economy workhorses during the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing forward billions of dollars of residential development. Unfortunately, new work commitments in WA have fallen in the last quarter, due to builder and developers being at capacity and facing a competitive labour market,”

“WA is showing strong signs of growth as we head into 2021. It is essential we address skills shortages now to avoid labour cost adverse impacting the cost of living in the State.” Ms Brewer concluded.

Property Council WA’s election platform, Recovery and Growth: Powered by Property, outlines five actions the incoming WA Government can take to ensure the property industry is enabled to drive performance, accelerate development and investment, and create jobs.

Media contact:  Emily Young | P 0475 161 328 | E [email protected]