The money pit

Being employed in the media as a subeditor, I’m acutely aware of the changing dynamic of the Australian workforce.

That’s why I’m heading to WA to become a miner.

Not that I have any mining-related skills, apart from knowledge of grammar and an eye for a heading.

But that’ll do, according to the hype, because they’re desperate for willing workers out west, as opposed to willing subeditors down east.

And for $250k (at least!!! according to the mining expert I met down at the pub the night they started outsourcing subbing jobs to New Zillund) I’m willing to drop my pampered life on the east coast, parachute into the Pilbara, live in a caravan next to a hole in the ground and earn a squillion.

Not that I think the big bucks you can earn are being exaggerated. Or the lack of skills required.

But with my additional aptitude for page layout and quirky columns, I might pick up $300k.

We’re talking Aussie pay and conditions, my mining expert mate assured me as he headed for the next shout.

Pay and conditions overseas workers only dream of, he emphasised.

Pay and conditions Aussie workers only dream of too, I thought.

Trouble is, according to captains of industry like Gina Rinehart, east coast Aussies aren’t moving up there quick enough because we’re either a) already employed, or b) unqualified.

Let me say this, Gina: being employed in the media as a sub and therefore acutely aware of the changing dynamic of the Australian workforce, a) is not a given.

Still, Gina wants to fly in overseas workers and pay them a bowl of rice per day instead.

Sounds a bit un-Australian, right? Exactly, Gina said.

The Gillard government are behind her too, ushering in the mining boom to create a two-tier economy that’s decimated Australia’s manufacturing industry, thereby freeing up a potential workforce to migrate nor-west. Brilliant!

And then hatching the Skilled Migration Scheme to get foreign workers up there instead of Aussies.

They should go one step further and introduce the Unskilled Migration Scheme too, so it reads better domestically for manufacturing and media types.

There’ll be a few spare subediting hands down east next financial year.

Soft, pudgy hands, sure, but used to digging dirt. Perfect for mining you’d think.

Ultimately, what constitutes a qualification when you’re in a hurry?

I can change a lightbulb: at a stretch, that should qualify me as an electrical engineer.

Truth is, it’s a skin-tight labour market and if Gina’s not quick, I’ll be poached by Fortescue.

People whinge about the lack of affordable housing, education and health services up there.

But how expensive is a tent? How much schooling do you need to handle a leaf blower? And all that fresh 50-degree desert air, who needs health services?

Yes, the FIFO (fly in, fly out) lifestyle is a grind.

Yes, you count down each 12-hour working day in 30-minute increments, like you’re in prison, before heading to the gym for a five-hour power session that will make you tired enough to forget your monotonous, isolated life, and strong enough to fend off any unwanted attempts from Bubba to break up the boredom.

Maybe that’s what the Village People were getting at when they penned Go West. Sure sounds macho, man.

Bottom line, if digging a hole in the west is what’s required to dig yourself out of a hole in the east, why wouldn’t you move? You dig?

You betcha.

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