Home' Scoop : Scoop 52 Winter 2010 Contents 78 scoop WINTER 2010
Sydney restaurateurs Luke Mangan and Lucy
Allon set up the Appetite for Excellence program to
encourage staff to regard hospitality work as a proper
career. "The service staff are a crucial element of
any successful restaurant so why is that we as a
nation do not encourage and support the growth
of this area of the industry which is in much need
of it? Do we need to introduce compulsory tips
and automatically added service charges a la
Japan, Singapore and America in order to retain
and encourage service professionals to stay in
the industry?" the organisation asks.
The boom also presents huge challenges for
the agricultural sector. Farmers try to compete by
offering housing, extended holidays and vehicles
as well as the less tangible advantages of rural life
such as a sense of community, reduced crime rates
and scenic locations.
The National Farmers Federation and the
WAFarmers have tried to limit labour costs.
"However, in some instances the problem is not
with the high cost of labour, but simply a lack of
available labour, both skilled and unskilled, that is
the bigger issue," Alan Hill says.
The debate about "Royalties for Regions" in WA
bubbles on, with concerns about the effectiveness
of such spending because, no matter what, many
families are not interested in relocating to some of
the most isolated and harsh country in the world.
Nevertheless towns such as Karratha, which
have suffered severe land shortages for years, have
been given special focus by the government, which
has recently given the go-ahead to a multi-storey
housing development there. It has asked Landcorp
to release 5000 building blocks over the next
five years. But there s still the question of finding
someone to build the houses.
A boom will put huge demands on Perth:
already the Real Estate Institute of WA puts the
median house price at more than $500,000.
Environmental considerations and a complex
approvals process have restricted development
but Mark Pownall says there are many potential
property developers with land who can t get
access to finance to develop it.
"And then there is the principle of user pays
for everything," he says. In the past, the state
government might have met some of the costs of
developing land (connecting electricity, for example)
because of the perceived benefits for the whole
community of having affordable land available.
"But these days we say, Bad luck, the rest of
us are not prepared to pay for people to come
here. Even when some nation-building is
needed, we say, You re on your own ."
The costs of providing infrastructure such as
power and water in a sprawling city are high. But
Mark points out that in Melbourne, with more
than double our population, land is cheaper and
the city is more spread out.
"Do we want to just leave it as it is and have
some sort of new Monaco, where we sit in splendid
wealth but don t actually do anything except
maybe be some sort of a tax haven?" he asks.
Planning Minister John Day has introduced
laws to streamline planning and approvals
processes, and late last year released Future
Directions, showing that 50 percent of Perth s
housing in the next 20 years will come from
increasing density in existing suburbs.
In the past two years more than $140
million has been spent on trying to fix
some of Perth Airport s congestion
problems (this year it expects
10.5 million passengers) with more
check-in counters, security screening
and an expanded departures area in the
Qantas terminal. Works at the front of
the domestic terminals to improve traffic
flow and provide better pedestrian
facilities have just been finished.
There have been sustained
calls for a rail service to the
airport -- but no plans are
in train yet. However there
is now more parking (9000
bays) and a shuttle bus service to take passengers
to the CBD and soon to Fremantle, Mandurah
and the northern suburbs. Work is due to start this
year on the new Terminal WA, primarily to cater for
intrastate and some interstate services, and it should
be operating by 2012.
Premier Colin Barnett announced earlier this
year that the arterial roads in the vicinity of Perth
Airport -- now almost permanently jammed -- are
the state s number one infrastructure priority.
Whether we like it or not, a sustained boom will
bring many challenges.
Whatever happens, Perth will be making the
transition to a big city with all the late night noise,
overcrowded streets, multicultural influences,
crime and traffic jams of big cities the world over.
The "old boys club" will inevitably decline and
we may be displaced from our comfortable position
in the social strata by new mining wealth.
The dream of property ownership for all may
have to go the way of such dreams in cities such as
London -- and even Sydney -- we may well have to
get used to renting all our lives.
Poised on the brink of history, West
Australians must grasp the opportunities and
work out how to make change work for them.
Otherwise they run the risk of being trampled
by the rush of others, just waiting for the
chance to have a go themselves. sm
Lamont's head chef Nathan Le says that
for a few months after the GFC hit, it was
relatively easy to get kitchen staff, but
already he's finding it hard to get skilled
and talented employees.
He's tried to attract staff by offering
full-time work over a four-day week (to
give people more work-life balance) but so
far, hasn't had much success. He's looking
at sponsoring someone to come in from
overseas but says recent 457 visa changes
have made it more difficult.
Nathan has seen restaurants advertising
for staff at high wages to compete with the
mining industry but says it's not sustainable.
He says he and many restaurateurs
offer career paths to employees to try to
keep them and get them excited about the
long-term opportunities. "We have to start
thinking about ways to retain staff without
just the monetary aspect," he says.
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