March/April 2021 Presidents Report

Hi Members

In our last newsletter we touched on the difficulties businesses were facing in attracting, maintaining and retaining employee’s. From this newsletter we recevied numerous feedback from members.....so we went to work to represent our members.....and discovered this issue was a very complex and concerning. We researched what the challenges are, what has contributed to this Workforce crisis and how we can start to repair it. We held a presentation on Thursday 8th April with a great turn out of business owener and HR staff attending from various industries.
We covered various challenges.....worth ethic, technology, outsourcing, poaching, housing crisis, decentralisation and more. 
We are now in a better position to know what needs to be done to repair this situation.  An outcome from this event had led to Chamber putting in a few submissions including;
1: Griffith City Council's Draft Economic Development Strategy 
2: Australia's skilled migration program inquiry.

1: Copy of GBC Submission- Draft Economic Development Strategy
Griffith Business Chamber is Griffith’s leading Business representative group.
We are pleased that Council engaged SC Lennon & associates to produce this Draft Economic Development Strategy.
This overarching framework or ‘roadmap’ to focus Council’s activities as a supporter, enabler and promoter of economic development for the next five years is vital for Griffith’s future prosperity and timely, responsive action must be taken by Griffith Council to ensure this.
Council’s senior management team and Councillors must provide the leadership to implement real and meaningful strategies to improve economic and social outcomes and this must be measured and monitored transparently to the whole of community and each SMT Director must be held accountable with defined key performance indicators. Not another dust collecting document sitting in a drawer.
 2.2 etc. only references COVID in Economic Recovery Plan we believe that this must be expanded with direct reference to Murray Darling Basin Plan impacts and Housing collapse in 2013 to only 16 developments from a previous high of 191 in 2013-2014.
This directly corelates to the current Housing and Homelessness crisis as acknowledged in Judith Stubbs report 2750 Homeless in Griffith.
Resulting in Griffith’s current workforce crisis.


3 & 3.1 Refers to the old GRP data and this should be deleted and updated with current data https://economy.id.com.au/griffith/gross-regional-product
3.2 needs review
Serious new research needs to be done and checked. The data seems inaccurate for Griffith LGA.
Minus -101 wholesale trade? Anecdotal current assumptions should be +50 Minus -87 in retail? Anecdotal evidence says should be plus +200


Hospitality +85 anecdotal current assumptions should be +200
Only 7 needed for construction? Anecdotal current assumptions +300
This equals around 1100 unfilled jobs in Griffith amounting to a very serious Workforce Crisis. The data below is obsolete.
Much of the data in 3.3, 3.4, 3.5 needs updating and review.
Page 24 - Housing Initiatives is seriously underplayed and the need of timely and responsive intervention by Local, State & Federal Governments.
The projected increase in the number of dwellings required is 1,744 dwellings by 2036.
These numbers are woefully inadequate and far too little, far too late for the serious current issues relative to affordable and available homes and the direct impact to Griffiths Current Workforce Crisis.
Griffith City Councils own experience with multiple unfilled positions vacancies within the organisation and the need for contract employees and outsourcing should be a clear indicator of the seriousness, severity & urgent issue.
A far more timely and significant strategic approach to the housing Crisis must be of highest priority.
Government activated large scale maintained Temporary worker maintained accommodation must be prioritised on unused vacant CBD ex industrial land.


In address to Griffith’s Workforce Crisis Council should support the
Skilled migrant visa programs which allows skilled people to work and live in Australia. It is a points- based system and is the most popular visa application pathway for skilled workers.
ESTABLISH GRIFFITH & WESTERN RIVERINA AS A (DAMA) ‘Designated Area Migration Agreement
A formal arrangement between the Commonwealth of Australia and a designated area representative. Under the terms of a DAMA, the designated area may be able to access to a broader range of overseas workers than is available through the standard skilled visa programs by allowing variation to standard occupations and skills lists and/or negotiable concessions to visa requirements.
4.3 Rail Freight Interchange Opportunities – Surprisingly references only made to a Leeton Shire LGA project in Wumbulgal and mention of a single freight company Lynx.
REFERENCE must also be made to an alternative Griffith LGA – D.A approved Freight interchange proposal with open access to all freight providers in Widgelli.
Council must enforce time, noise, dust and safety compliance regulations over the current CBD Rail terminal which is no longer safe, suitable or appropriate.
Communication, Consultation and transparency
Council’s General manager and Mayor no longer communicates with elected Member for Murray Hellen Dalton.
Withdrew membership from Griffith Business Chamber after 67 years and refuses to meet or formally respond to submissions etc.
Also no longer communicates with Murrumbidgee Irrigation the exclusive water delivery provider. This is clearly an unsustainable position and Council is in obvious breach of obligations.

2: Copy of GBC Submission- Australian Skilled Migration Program 

As President of Griffith Business Chamber I welcome this inquiry into Inquiry into Australia's skilled migration program and forward this submission.
Our small city Griffith NSW is recognised as the Capital of the Western Riverina, city population 26,000 Regional population around 60,000.
In recent years we have had an  un-precedented growth in Manufacturing, Industry & Agriculture.
We a are model example of a high functioning Regional centre with many examples of skilled migrant workers in multiple workplaces for quite some time, particularly in Metal Fabrication and Mechanics.
In more recent times our region has become recognised as in "Workforce Crisis status" with many hundreds of unfilled jobs in all areas including around 640 unfilled in Agriculture and Manufacturing but now also Hospitality, Retail, Construction, health education and more with a shortfall of around 500 jobs in our estimations.
ABS and i.d Community data has not yet picked up this jobs shortfall but our anecdotal analysis show that these numbers continue to rise, we hope the Regional Development Riverina Skills audit will quantify this accurately when available.
Our Gross Regional Product figures show that in the Griffith LGA alone tipped the $2 billion per annum  in 2017 and has declined 1018,2019,2020 by 7.2%. https://economy.id.com.au/griffith/gross-regional-product
We believe there is a direct correlation to these job vacancies and our decline in economic growth.
As the jobs are so many (per capita) and varied we suggest that a special designated area migration agreement (DAMA) zone agreement needs to be established Griffith and The Western Riverina area to help us get back to record growth in a vast range of employment categories with priority.
Responsiveness and timeliness are the keys to allowing this demand for growth to be realised.
As we as a NSW Chamber are alliance partners with Business NSW we also endorse and concur with these broader recommendations in their submission.
Recommendation 1/  Develop a plan to safely reopen international borders detailing when and how international borders will operate in a COVID-safe way, and which cohorts will be prioritised for entry into Australia.
Recommendation 2/ That 75 per cent of work and skilled visa applications, especially for Temporary Skill Shortage applicants with occupations on the PMSOL, are processed within 120 days.
That 90 per cent of WHV applications are processed within 90 days.
Publish data on processing times in the Department’s Visa Statistics quarterly reports.
Recommendation 3/ Facilitate the travel of skilled migrants by developing separate quarantine and flight caps.
Recommendation 4/ Create more immediate pathways to permanency for on-shore skilled migrants.
Fast-track subclass 186 visa applications and temporarily relax conditions.
Provide options for further WHV extensions and support WHVs to transition to longer-term visas.
Recommendation 5/ Create travel bubbles with South Pacific countries.
Provide alternative and inexpensive quarantine arrangements for workers from countries with a ‘low risk’ to COVID-19.
Recommendation 6/ Support the Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce to implement an aggressive talent recruitment strategy overseas.
Recommendation 7/ Develop a plan for the return of the bulk of international students to Australia for the start of the 2022 academic year.
Recommendation 8/ Temporarily waive visa fees during 2021-22 for employers and independent skilled migrants to encourage attraction and uptake.

In addition to this submission, Chamber also put in a submission for Griffith City Councils Draft Economic Development Strategy to address some key significant topics such as Housing Crisis, decline in Gross Regional Product and inacrrate data, support to establish Griffith & Western Riverina as a (DAMA) ‘Designated Area Migration Agreement’, Rail Freight Interchange Opportunities, Communication, Consultation and transparency.

If you are a sole trader, the owner of a small business or a not-for-profit organisation in NSW, you may be eligible for a small business fees and charges rebate of $1500. For more information, please click the link below.  https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/small-business-fees-and-charges-rebate

Coming up on Thursday 29th April 2021 at the Griffith Leagues Club, we will be hosting a presentation about the new NBN Business Fibre Zone and what that means for businesses. More details will follow. 

Kind Regards
Paul Pierotti
President | Griffith Business Chamber