Mr McGowan also announced the results of a roundtable held last week with iron ore sector leaders, with representatives from all major producers and exporters involved.
He said the Chamber of Minerals and Energy would partner with the state on a joint campaign to encourage existing east coast workers to move to WA permanently.
About 6000 FIFO workers, many from Brisbane, largely recruited during the boom periods between 2003 and 2012, had been flying in and out every fortnight.
During the pandemic, Mr McGowan said, they had moved to WA temporarily and gone through quarantine to continue going to their jobs.
The government would now give them incentives to call the state home.
“This is a huge opportunity to get these people to come and live here with their families and keep their incomes here,” Mr McGowan said.
“A lot of the workforce have never spent significant time here, but now they have, and so have their families, and now they better understand the lifestyle and advantages of Western Australia.
“Flying across the country every fortnight is clearly bad for your family … living in the state in which you work makes a lot of sense.
“And those large incomes are lost to the state that gives them those incomes.
“If more people with high-paying jobs come to live here that would be great.
“Obviously people nearing the end of their working life, it might be difficult, but for younger workers and new recruits, Western Australia is the place to be.”
He said companies would be looking into increasing local recruitment, instead of in the eastern states, and with Treasurer Ben Wyatt he was looking at other incentives such as encouraging those workers to buy homes here.
“Recruiting in the eastern states needs to stop and the companies would look at that,” he said.
“The treasurer and I are looking at what we can do in terms of housing incentives.
“This is about boosting our economy and having something tangible and real … that has come out of the COVID crisis.”
He did not provide further information on possible housing initiatives and how this might relate to the matter of housing vulnerable WA people when asked, repeating only that he was looking into the matter.
He said other outcomes from the meeting were that the government would investigate local manufacturing and supply chain opportunities for example, iron ore rail manufacturing.
Housing Industry Association WA executive director Cath Hart welcomed the news that housing could be utilised to lure eastern staters to the west.
“HIA has been proposing this directly with WA’s mining sector and the state government since March as one option to support economic recovery in WA’s domestic economy,” she said.
“We’ve seen just this week how badly COVID-19 has damaged WA’s home building project pipeline so HIA is pleased to have been able to contribute innovative policy proposals like this to help kickstart recovery.
“We will continue to work across industry and Governments on the ‘new settlers’ program and other measures to help support WA’s residential building sector.”
Emma Young covers breaking news with a focus on science and environment, health and social justice for WAtoday.