Via Labor employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor in response to “migrants to the regions”:
“…we have over 700,000 unemployed Australians, and we have 1.1m Australians looking for more work.”
“That is over 1.8m Australians looking for any work, or looking for more work, and yet we watch the government continue to allow the explosion of temporary visa holders to 1.6m.
“So firstly, before we look at this plan, this recent thought bubble by the thought bubble boy Scott Morrison, we should consider what we’re doing with these temporary visa levels. “Clearly, when you look at youth unemployment in this country, it’s just over 13 per cent.
“We have too few young workers getting into the labour market.
“One of the reasons for that is they are being displaced, or indeed superseded by the overuse of some of the temporary visa holder categories.
“When we’re examining congestion, when we’re examining job opportunities for the underemployed or unemployed in this country, we need to consider whether in fact the government has properly ensured that we use these visas properly, and clearly, with 1.6m visa holders there is a real strain on opportunities for unemployed Australians and underemployed Australians to get into the labour market, and the government needs to do something.”
“[Morrison] likes the idea that this drives wages down”.
“If you have an oversupply in certain areas, you drive down wages,” he said.
“That’s why this government has presided over the lowest wage growth in five years, certainly one of the reasons for that is indeed the misuse, overuse and abuse of temporary work visas.
“It’s unfair to the visa holders who are exploited, it’s unfair to the local worker who misses out.
“In fact, Scott Morrison’s history is clear: he voted against labour market testing when it was introduced in the last year of the last Labor government. He’s on the record opposing any restrictions on temporary visas and skilled visas.
“Indeed as shadow minister for immigration he wanted to open up the 457 visa arrangements to make them easier, not harder, to access. So he looks overseas first and denies local workers their opportunity.
“As Prime Minister, he is a hypocrite if indeed he continues to argue he is concerned about congestion and infrastructure strain, when he turns his back on Australian workers who can’t find enough work.”
OMG. Has MB finally broken through?
Let’s reserve judgment, but it appears Labor is going to do something about the great visa rort. They most certainly should:
- For years we have seen Dominos, Caltex, 7-Eleven, Woolworths and many other fast food franchises busted for rorting migrant labour.
- The issue culminated in 2016 when the Senate Education and Employment References Committee released a scathing report entitled A National Disgrace: The Exploitation of Temporary Work Visa Holders, which documented systemic abuses of Australia’s temporary visa system for foreign workers.
- Mid last year, ABC’s 7.30 Report ran a disturbing expose on the modern day slavery occurring across Australia.
- Meanwhile, Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), Natalie James, told Fairfax in August last year that people on visas continue to be exploited at an alarming rate, particularly those with limited English-language skills. It was also revealed that foreign workers are involved in more than three-quarters of legal cases initiated by the FWO against unscrupulous employers.
- Then The ABC reported that Australia’s horticulture industry is at the centre of yet another migrant slave scandal, according to an Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into the issue.
- The same Parliamentary Inquiry was told by an undercover Malaysian journalist that foreign workers in Victoria were “brainwashed” and trapped in debt to keep them on farms.
- A recent UNSW Sydney and UTS survey painted the most damning picture of all, reporting that wages theft is endemic among international students, backpackers and other temporary migrants.
- A few months ago, Fair Work warned that most of Western Sydney had become a virtual special economic zone in which two-thirds of businesses were underpaying workers, with the worst offenders being high-migrant areas.
- Dr Bob Birrell from the Australian Population Research Institute latest report, based on 2016 Census data, revealed that most recently arrived skilled migrants (i.e. arrived between 2011 and 2016) cannot find professional jobs, with only 24% of skilled migrants from Non-English-Speaking-Countries (who comprise 84% of the total skilled migrant intake) employed as professionals as of 2016, compared with 50% of skilled migrants from Main English-Speaking-Countries and 58% of the same aged Australian-born graduates. These results accord with a recent survey from the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, which found that 53% of skilled migrants in Western Australia said they are working in lower skilled jobs than before they arrived, with underemployment also rife.
- The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) latest Characteristics of Recent Migrants report, revealed that migrants have generally worse labour market outcomes than the Australian born population, with recent migrants and temporary residents having an unemployment rate of 7.4% versus 5.4% for the Australian born population, and lower labour force participation (69.8%) than the Australian born population (70.2%).
- ABC Radio recently highlighted the absurdity of Australia’s ‘skilled’ migration program in which skilled migrants have grown increasingly frustrated at not being able to gain work in Australia despite leaving their homelands to fill so-called ‘skills shortages’. As a result, they are now demanding that taxpayers provide government-sponsored internships to help skilled migrants gain local experience, and a chance to work in their chosen field.
- In early 2018 the senate launched the”The operation and effectiveness of the Franchising Code of Conduct” owing in part to systematic abuse of migrant labour.
- Then there is new research from the University of Sydney documenting the complete corruption of the temporary visas system, and arguing that Australia running a “de-facto low-skilled immigration policy” (also discussed here at the ABC).
- In late June the government released new laws to combat modern slavery which, bizarrely, imposed zero punishment for enslaving coolies.
- Over the past few months we’ve witnessed widespread visa rorting across cafes and restaurants, including among high end establishments like the Rockpool Group.
- Alan Fels, head of the Migrant Workers Taskforce, revealed that international students are systematically exploited particularly by bosses of the same ethnicity.
It won’t stop the crush-loading of everything nor take pressure off housing but it is a start.
He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.
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