Government opens new migrant visa rort pathway

By Leith van Onselen

Ever since the Turnbull Government supposedly tightened 457 temporary ‘skilled’ visas last year, we’ve seen it quietly loosen the immigration spigots in other areas. Yesterday, we witnessed another example, with the Coalition allowing special visas to regions with so-called skill shortages. From SBS News [my emphasis]:

Australian regions with niche skills shortages are being earmarked for “boutique” visa deals offered by the Turnbull government, SBS News can reveal.

There are already 322 special labour agreements in place with certain businesses and industries across the country, but the Minister for Citizenship Alan Tudge has said he wants to go further and do deals based on geographical location…

Boutique arrangements are granted at the government’s discretion when there are vacancies for niche positions that cannot be filled locally and when that particular job does not fall within the Skills Shortage List of more than 600 occupations eligible for skilled visa categories.

Companies must demonstrate they are unable to find local workers by advertising nationally first.

In the majority of cases, visa holders are given a pathway to permanent residency…

Melbourne aged care centre Fronditha Care is one of dozens of businesses which has been granted boutique visa deals to boost staff numbers.

The centre has employed 22 Greek aged care workers so far and has been granted an extra 60 special visas – known as the TSS (Temporary Skill Shortage) visa – to hire more bilingual staff.

I didn’t realise that Melbourne is now part of regional Australia. It also has one of the biggest Greek diaspora populations in the world, so surely finding a few bilingual staff shouldn’t be a problem.

Moreover, what a beautifully circular system we have created here: bring in non-English speaking (NES) migrants and then bring in bilingual migrants to service said NES migrants.

Like virtually every other ‘skilled’ visa program, this one is bound to be rorted, as we’ve witnessed with Australia’s provisional regional skilled visa (489) and skilled permanent nominated (190) visa (see here).

Recall ABC Radio‘s report in March, which highlighted the absurdity of Australia’s ‘skilled’ migration program. This report profiled a permanent skilled migrant family from Bangladesh who has not been able to gain work in South Australia despite leaving their homeland to fill so-called ‘skills shortages’ under the regional skilled visa scheme:

According to this ABC Radio report, this type of scenario is commonplace, resulting in migrant groups demanding that taxpayers provide government-sponsored internships to help skilled migrants gain local experience, and a chance to work in their chosen field!

But hey, big business rent-seekers like billionaire Gerry Harvey will be happy. Harvey did, after all, demand a two-tier wage system to allow employers to pay foreign guest workers less than locals:

[Harvey] called on the Federal Government to allow foreign workers on fixed visas to form a second tier to the labour market.

“Australia doesn’t have cheap labour. Many overseas workers would be prepared to move here for a much better life and half the money Australians earn,” he said…

“I’ve got horse studs and it’s difficult to get staff…

Mr Harvey said both major parties needed to open the gates to migrants.

Clearly, growth lobby representatives like Gerry Harvey continue to pull the Government’s strings. At the expense of ordinary workers.

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  1. They would not be so keen to come here for half wages if PR were taken off the table.

    • Yes they will. Look at Dubai – Indians stay there for decades without ever being given Emirati citizenship.

      • That is a good point. I was going to ask why in hell you would go to Dubai and get treated like crap and exploited when instead you could come to Australia and get treated like …. Well that bit is now clear.

        What I am yet to grasp is this: why come here and be treated so badly? Surely news of all this is getting back to India? My thought was that if you wanted to GTFO of India and make a new life you would want to be getting PR and Aus Citizenship and that’s why you put up with those initial years of exploitation.

        Anyway it is all academic, because no major or minor party will ever decouple the PR / Medicare card / free schooling for children prize from the 2-4 year temporary visa.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        What I am yet to grasp is this: why come here and be treated so badly?

        To provide opportunity for your kids, would seem the obvious answer.

  2. So do these migrants that get paid half wages, which probably means they pay a third of tax, do they then get a third of our road use? Do they have to wait three times as long for a bus? Do they have to sit outside the emergency room for three times as long? Or is Gerry going to pay for all those things for them?

    I can’t think of a scummier c*nt in this country that has made billions from the people yet demands more. Seriously, what the f*ck is wrong with this bloke? He is that much of a tight c*nt he demands coolies even though he is a billionare? F*ck me! Surely only Trigiscum is worse.

    • And Gerry won’t have to pay 10% GST on those imported workers, either.
      It was his lobbying that brought in the 10% GST on low value items imported from overseas, even though it costs the government more to implement the tax than it brings in.

    • sisyphusMEMBER

      Totally agree. Unfortunately that seems to be how many of “our” aussie billionaires think. No social conscience, no vision beyond wanting more, more, more. Bogan-billionaires.

  3. “I’ve got horse studs and it’s difficult to get staff”
    That’s gold. I’m only surprised he didn’t say ‘let them eat cake’.

  4. The centre has employed 22 Greek aged care workers so far and has been granted an extra 60 special visas – known as the TSS (Temporary Skill Shortage) visa – to hire more bilingual staff.

    Not enough Greek speakers in Melbourne.
    “Melbourne is home to one of the largest Greek diaspora communities in the world as well as being the city with the largest Greek-speaking population outside Greece.”

    • To be fair, the Greek born population throughout Australia is dying out, and 2nd generation people don’t necessarily have the language skills, while you can forget about third generation.
      The number of Greek born people in Victoria dropped from 67k to 63k between 1996 and 2011, while their median age increased from 39 to 48 from 1996 to 2016, so demand for Greek speaking aged care workers will be increasing at the same time as the number of Greek speakers declines.
      Noting also that aged care workers are mostly female, there were only 430 females born in Greece dwelling in Victoria in 2011, so I’d imagine getting 22 extra into aged care would be genuinely challenging.

      This is the migration end game that will be repeated for each ethnic subgroup around 40-50 years after the peak in migration from that particular country.

    • boyracerMEMBER

      Don’t get me started. The court jesters I’m currently negotiating with are being monstrous with their demands.

  5. reusachtigeMEMBER

    I’ve got no idea why you fight this. Thankfully our government understands that even though most people don’t like it the best thing for us is added vibrancy. We should celebrate it and learn to profit from the freshly imported human capital just like the government donors do!

    • mild colonialMEMBER

      We fight it because one day this replicating lumpen proletariat will frigging band together and demand better work conditions. Then equality! no way!

  6. If I’m reading this correctly, the SBS piece is wrong. It’s not that Tudge wants to expand the scope of agreements to include those based on geography, these agreements are already in use.

    I think Tudge is referring to the Designated Area Migration Agreements.

    This is only one of a number of types

    The list of current (April) agreements by type

    There are some familiar and predictable users. A quick scan and I can’t see Fronditha but maybe have to wait for the July updated listing.

  7. scootytootyMEMBER

    Seriously? In a country with one of the worlds most diverse population bases we can make the excuse that we need to hire from overseas because we don’t have bilingual locals?

    • adelaide_economist

      Pretty much. Examine any of the stated claims for our migration program and five minutes of research would demolish every one of them. We can speculate on the real motives but improving quality of life for average Australians is definitely not one of them.

  8. What’s the youth unemployment rate at the moment in Greece? Somewhere in the order of 40-50%?

    Yep, let’s import the unemployable from a foreign country to do unskilled work rather than employ locally, so that businesses can systematically undercut wages and work conditions.

    Good job Team Australia!

  9. So doesn’t this confirm we have a problem with allowing the family of migrants to come to Australia? Often those that can’t speak English. More evidence we need to scrap the family reunion visa.