4 Apr 2011

Foreign workers being imported by mining industry

7:01 am on 4 April 2011

Australia's booming resource sector is resorting to importing labour to work in the mines.

Radio New Zealand's Sydney correspondent says anyone who dines out in Perth will tell you stories about how restaurateurs can't find staff to wait tables these days.

Everyone has gone up north to earn two to three times as much in the mining industry.

Unemployment in Western Australia is the lowest in the nation at just above 4% and mining companies have persuaded the federal government to fast-track visa applications from foreign skilled workers.

Employers say labour shortages and associated wage pressures are the biggest problems they face.

In response, the federal government is seeking to encourage older Australians back into the job market and to persuade others, such as part-time employees and people on disability benefits, to work longer hours.