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State Govt shrugs off interstate job poaching bid

A New South Wales campaign to lure South Australian health workers, teachers and other essential staff with bonuses to work in regional towns has been dismissed by the Malinauskas Government as a desperate effort to fill that state’s skills gaps.

Jan 31, 2024, updated Feb 01, 2024
NSW Labor Premier Chris Minns (right) didn't tell SA Premier Peter Malinauskas about his campaign to poach SA essential workers. Photo: Dean Lewins/AAP

NSW Labor Premier Chris Minns (right) didn't tell SA Premier Peter Malinauskas about his campaign to poach SA essential workers. Photo: Dean Lewins/AAP

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.

But workers in Sydney are not the only ones in the government’s sights.

The extensive ad campaign will also aim to encourage interstate essential workers to consider moving to nearby regional NSW communities, starting with tapping SA workers.

Teachers working rurally can collect an annual bonus of $20,000 to $30,000, while health workers can get packages of up to $20,000.

SA Treasurer Stephen Mullighan was far from alarmed about the possible poaching of in-demand staff.

“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 Radio Adelaide.

Mullighan 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,” he said.

About 55 per cent of NSW teacher vacancies are in the regions, but the NSW Premier 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.

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“If there are good people that are considering relocating, coming and working in the NSW public service, we’d love to have them.”

Minns also admitted that he failed to give his fellow Labour premier and occasional running buddy, South Australian’s Peter Malinauskas, a warning about Wednesday’s launch.

“He can read about it in the newspapers or watch our ads on TV,” he 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 said.

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.

-with AAP

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