Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is “very confident” WA will be heard loud and clear at his Jobs and Skills Summit, saying when Premier Mark McGowan is in the room, “who else do you need”.
The Albanese Government has come under fire for who is and is not on its invitation list after it was released on Tuesday night.
It has been criticised for having a strong focus on the union movement and for snubbing WA, with just seven out of the 143 invitees of government, industry and union leaders being from the State.
Mr Albanese said WA would play a “big part” at the two-day summit on Thursday and Friday, especially given Mr McGowan would be there.
The other West Australians include mining billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, Wesfarmers managing director Rob Scott, ARUP co-chair Kate West, UnionsWA’s Carolyn Smith, Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre director Professor Alan Duncan, and Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union official Christy Cain.
“I think the truth is that a lot of the peak organisations have their headquarters in the Eastern States,” Mr Albanese told Perth’s NOVA 93.7FM.
“But when you’ve got Mark McGowan in the room, who else do you need? And Twiggy Forrest and other prominent West Australians will be there as well.
“I’m certainly very confident that WA’s voice will be heard loud and clear.”
You’ve got to make some difficult decisions when you’re putting together the invitation list.
It comes after Treasurer Jim Chalmers defended the list of attendees, arguing “you can’t invite everyone”.
“Putting together an invitation list like this is not the easiest task that we’ve ever undertaken and it’s a difficult balance to strike,” Dr Chalmers said.
“For those who are not on the list, we’ve tried our best to get around to all parts of the economy and all parts of the country in the lead up to the jobs summit.
“But the reality is, you can’t invite everyone that you would like to invite. You’ve got to make some difficult decisions when you’re putting together the invitation list.”
Interstate mining sector representatives from BHP, Rio Tinto, Blackrock Industries, Mineral Council of Australia, Australian Energy Council, and Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration will also be sitting at the table.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, who declined his invitation, said unions were getting a disproportionate seat at the table, which he indicated would result in mass strikes.
“I don’t think for small business people the hopes are very high as to what can be achieved,” Mr Dutton told the ABC.
“It’s not in businesses’ interest, it’s not in our economy’s interests, it’s not in the workers’ interest either.”
Day one of the summit will focus on equal pay and opportunities for women, wage growth across the board, creating safe workplaces, and making the workforce more environmentally friendly.
Day two will centre around skilled migration needed now and in the future, skills and training for jobs to come, getting more people into work, system-wide changes to boost employment, and tackling discrimination.
The outcomes of the summit are expected to be rushed into the October Budget, while the remainder will form the basis of a white paper that will undergo further consultation across 2023.