The Great Southern local governments that have committed to a Designated Area Migration Agreement have decided to push ahead with the process without waiting for the City of Albany. A decision was made at the most recent Western Australian Local Government Association Great Southern country zone meeting to form a working group comprising the chief executives of the shires of Kojonup, Katanning and Plantagenet along with zone president Chris Pavlovich. The working group will also include representation from the Great Southern Development Commission and Regional Development Australia Great Southern. Part of the group’s charter will be to review other WA DAMA business cases to help the zone determine its next step. It is also expected to prepare a draft budget and scope of works for the business case — which will form the key part of the application — and shortlist suitable contractors before the next zone meeting at the end of October. All local governments in the region except the City of Albany have made an official commitment to supporting the DAMA business case. Mr Pavlovich said the City of Albany was still welcome to be part of any eventual application but the zone “needed to start the ball rolling” because the region’s worker shortage was already at a “crisis level”. “We want them in because they’re a big part of our funding base and there is a bigger population in Albany than the rest of the Great Southern put together,” he said. “I’m of the opinion that we’ll make it work regardless.” A DAMA for the region would allow employers in the Great Southern to fill vacancies with migrant workers if they had been unable to fill the positions by advertising locally. The region’s need for additional workers must be demonstrated through a business case to secure a DAMA. The committed local government councils have been asked to consult with industries in their areas and report back on skills shortages with supporting evidence by September 23. “We need to ensure that there is the demand for careers that aren’t on the skilled immigration visa list and that there is evidence they can produce to say it’s taken two years to fill positions, as that is one of the prerequisites,” Mr Pavlovich said. “What we don’t want to do is spend $100,000 putting a business plan together, then find out there is no evidence we’re short of labour.” The City of Albany was contacted for comment. A City spokeswoman has previously told the Advertiser the City supported a DAMA application and was “interested in learning more about being involved.” It will be an agenda item at the City’s Community and Corporate Service Committee meeting on Tuesday.