A NSW push to poach interstate essential workers has been dismissed by South Australia as a desperate effort to fill the more populous state’s skill “chasms”.
The Make the Move Campaign is aimed at boosting the number of essential workers in regional NSW by spotlighting the stories of nurses, police, teachers, firefighters and midwives who quit cities for the regions.
The extensive ad campaign aims to encourage interstate essential workers to consider moving to nearby regional NSW communities, starting with Adelaide workers.
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Teachers working in rural areas can collect an annual bonus of $20,000 to $30,000 while health workers can get packages of up to $20,000.
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South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas said he understood why NSW would be attempting to poach in-demand staff, saying 30,000 people had left the state last year.
“That’s a big reduction … it speaks to a need to advertise to others about why they might want to stay there,” he said.
“We’re doing a far better job of being able to attract people to our state.”
He pointed to SA’s recent strong economic performance.
“This state’s got a lot of things going our way, increasingly it’s being talked about in other parts of the country and we welcome that,” he said.
“If that means NSW has to spend dollars on their own television ads to keep their own people there so be it, that’s their prerogative,” he said.
South Australia’s treasurer Stephen Mullighan was also not alarmed.
“What you’re seeing from (premier) Chris Minns and NSW is a last-ditch attempt to start filling some skills gaps that have grown into yawning chasms in the last three years,” he told ABC Adelaide.
He also questioned why workers would uproot their families when the median housing cost in regional NSW exceeded that in Adelaide.
“I am not panicking in the face of Chris Minns offering $20,000 in relocation costs to move to a higher-cost, lower-lifestyle place somewhere in regional NSW for workers who quite frankly have a much better place to live here in South Australia,” Mullighan said.
About 55 per cent of NSW teacher vacancies are in the regions, but Minns expects recent pay rises that made the state’s teachers the nation’s best-paid will soon turn the tide.
While the campaign was currently focused on South Australia, he warned the state was open to competing for essential workers in Victoria and Queensland.
“For the past decade, other states have been poaching our best and brightest to work in their institutions,” Minns said.
“If there are good people that are considering relocating, coming and working in the NSW public service, we’d love to have them.”
He also admitted that he failed to give his fellow Labor premier and occasional running buddy, South Australia’s Peter Malinauskas, a warning about Wednesday’s launch.
“He can read about it in the newspapers or watch our ads on TV,” Minns said.
Union leader and former principal Jennie-Marie Gorman said the states needed to move beyond short-term incentives and interstate poaching amid a national teacher shortage.
“I’m concerned that a lot of band-aid solutions are being found and we really need to find something that’s a big-picture solution,” the Australian Education Union SA branch president told AAP.
Gorman said it was critical to improve pay and conditions across the board, properly fund public schools and focus on enticing more young people to take up what was a rewarding vocation.
“This is a national crisis — it really needs to be solved on the national level,” she said.