Cut dole in east to bring workers west

Dole recipients in depressed east coast cities such as Wollongong should have their payments cut to encourage them to move to WA's booming but labour-starved mining industry, Treasurer Christian Porter says.

Wading into the politically-charged debate that flared this week after Gina Rinehart's massive $10 billion Roy Hill mine was given approval to bring in 1715 foreign workers, Mr Porter said Federal Govrnment policies had failed to improve the flow of workers to WA.

"If you are unemployed in Wollongong, is there any repercussion whatsoever for not taking up a job or even trying to take up a job in WA," he said at an RSM Bird Cameron business function yesterday.

"Do you even have to apply under welfare rules at the moment?

"The fact is that under the present sanctions built into the social security Act and the system that sits under it, the answer is no."

Mr Porter's comments come on the back of mining boss David Flanagan calling for a national debate about people on Newstart benefits who were not prepared to join the boom.

The _West Australian _revealed this week that a trial Federal Government program to pay unemployed people up to $9000 to cover moving costs attracted just 37 people who decided to head to WA.

Despite an unemployment rate of 3.8 per cent, and with up to 89,000 mining and construction jobs needing to be filled in coming years, WA struggles to entice people from the east.

But Federal Employment Participation Minister Kate Ellis shot down Mr Porter's idea, saying there were 50,800 unemployed people in WA and he should stop pretending the problem existed only in other parts of Australia.

Mr Porter also called for a rethink on the tax rebate paid to workers in remote areas, saying it had not been indexed since 1945 and was costing more to administer than it paid out.

He said it was ironic that people were not prepared to debate cutting the dole when a reverse form of penalty for welfare recipients already existed.

"Everyone is scared of this debate but there is now a policy that works the other way," Mr Porter said. "You will find it quite hard to collect the dole if you move to Noosa."