So that’s why the ABC loves mass immigration

So that it could pump us coolies for all we’re worth, via The Australian:

Embattled public broadcaster ABC has underpaid up to 2,500 casual employees over the past six years.

In a statement on the ABC website, the corporation said it “recently identified that some casual employees have been underpaid.”

“A detailed review is underway to confirm how penalties, allowances and loadings should have been calculated and applied over the past six years to about 2500 ‘flat-rate’ casual staff.”

It’s only fair that the ABC fat cats join the wages gouge to feather their own nests. Everyone else is doing it after all.

Late last year Labour economists in the book entitled The Wages Crisis in Australia detailed the rort in all its hideous glory, as the great Australian migrant wage rort unambiguously lowers employment standards and undercuts local workers.

Below are key excepts from Chapter 13 entitled Temporary migrant workers (TMWs), underpayment and predatory business models, written by Iain Campbell:

This chapter argues that the expansion of temporary labour migration is a significant development in Australia and that it has implications for wage stagnation…

Three main facts about their presence in Australia are relevant to the discussion of wage stagnation. First, there are large numbers of TMWs in Australia, currently around 1.2 million persons. Second, those numbers have increased strongly over the past 15 years. Third, when employed, many TMWs are subject to exploitation, including wage payments that fall below — sometimes well below — the minimum levels specified in employment regulation…

One link to slow wages growth, as highlighted by orthodox economics, stems from the simple fact of increased numbers, which add to labour supply and thereby help to moderate wages growth. This chapter argues, however, that the more salient point concerns the way many TMWs are mistreated within the workplace in industry sectors such as food services, horticulture, construction, personal services and cleaning. TMW underpayments, which appear both widespread in these sectors and systemic, offer insights into labour market dynamics that are also relevant to the general problem of slow wages growth…

Official stock data indicate that the visa programmes for international students, temporary skilled workers and working holiday makers have tripled in numbers since the late 1990s… In all, the total number of TMWs in Australia is around 1.2 million persons. If we include New Zealand citizens and permanent residents, who can enter Australia under a special subclass 444 visa, without time limits on their stay and with unrestricted work rights (though without access to most social security payments), then the total is close to 2 million persons… TMWs now make up around 6% of the total Australian workforce…

Decisions by the federal Coalition government under John Howard to introduce easier pathways to permanent residency for temporary visa holders, especially international students and temporary skilled workers, gave a major impetus to TMW visa programmes.

Most international students and temporary skilled workers, together with many working holiday makers, see themselves as involved in a project of ‘staggered’ or ‘multi-step’ migration, whereby they hope to leap from their present status into a more long-term visa status, ideally permanent residency. One result, as temporary migration expands while the permanent stream remains effectively capped, is a lengthening queue of onshore applicants for permanent residency…

Though standard accounts describe Australian immigration as oriented to skilled labour, this characterisation stands at odds with the abundant evidence on expanding temporary migration and the character of TMW jobs. It is true that many TMWs, like their counterparts in the permanent stream, are highly qualified and in this sense skilled. However, the fact that their work is primarily in lower-skilled jobs suggests that it is more accurate, as several scholars point out, to speak of a shift in Australia towards a de facto low-skilled migration programme

A focus on raw numbers of TMWs may miss the main link to slow wages growth. It is the third point concerning underpayments and predatory business models that seems richest in implications. This point suggests, first and most obviously, added drag on wages growth in sectors where such underpayments and predatory business models have become embedded. If they become more widely practised, underpayments pull down average hourly wages. If a substantial number of firms in a specific labour market intensify strategies of labour cost minimisation by pushing wage rates below the legal floor, it can unleash a dynamic of competition around wage rates that foreshadows wage decline rather than wage growth for employees…

Increases in labour supply allow employers in sectors already oriented to flexible and low-wage employment, such as horticulture and food services, to sustain and extend strategies of labour cost minimisation… The arguments and evidence cited above suggest a spread of predatory business models within low-wage industries.37 They suggest an unfolding process of degradation in these labour markets…

And below are extracts from Chapter 14, entitled Is there a wages crisis facing skilled temporary migrants?, by Joanna Howe:

Scarcely a day goes by without another headline of wage theft involving temporary migrant workers…

In this chapter we explore a largely untold story in relation to temporary migrant workers… it exposes a very real wages crisis facing workers on the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (formerly the 457 visa) in Australia. This crisis has been precipitated by the federal government’s decision to freeze the salary floor for temporary skilled migrant workers since 2013… the government has chosen to put downward pressure on real wages for temporary skilled migrants, thereby surreptitiously allowing the TSS visa to be used in lower-paid jobs…

In Australia, these workers are employed via the TSS visa and they must be paid no less than a salary floor. This salary floor is called the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT). TSMIT was introduced in 2009 in response to widespread concerns during the Howard Government years of migrant worker exploitation. This protection was considered important because an independent review found that many 457 visa workers were not receiving wages equivalent to those received by Australian workers…

In effect, TSMIT is intended to act as a proxy for the skill level of a particular occupation. It prevents unscrupulous employers misclassifying an occupation at a higher skill level in order to employ a TSS visa holder at a lower level…

TSMIT’s protective ability is only as strong as the level at which it is set. In its original iteration back in 2009, it was set at A$45 220. This level was determined by reference to average weekly earnings for Australians, with the intention that TSMIT would be pegged to this because the Australian government considered it ‘important that TSMIT keep pace with wage growth across the Australian labour market’. This indexation occurred like clockwork for five years. But since 1 July 2013, TSMIT has been frozen at a level of A$53 900. ..

There is now a gap of more than A$26 000 between the salary floor for temporary skilled migrant workers and annual average salaries for Australian workers. This means that the TSS visa can increasingly be used to employ temporary migrant workers in occupations that attract a far lower salary than that earned by the average Australian worker. This begs the question — is the erosion of TSMIT allowing the TSS visa to morph into a general labour supply visa rather than a visa restricted to filling labour market gaps in skilled, high-wage occupations?..

But why would employers go to all the effort of hiring a temporary migrant worker on a TSS visa over an Australian worker?

Renowned Australian demographer Graeme Hugo observed that employers ‘will always have a “demand” for foreign workers if it results in a lowering of their costs’.17 The simplistic notion that employers will only go to the trouble and expense of making a TSS visa application when they want to meet a skill shortage skims over a range of motives an employer may have for using the TSS visa. These could be a reluctance to invest in training for existing or prospective staff, or a desire to move towards a deunionised workforce. Additionally, for some employers, there could be a belief that, despite the requirement that TSS visa workers be employed on equivalent terms to locals, it is easier to avoid paying market salary rates and conditions for temporary migrant workers who have been recognised as being in a vulnerable labour market position. A recent example of this is the massive underpayments of chefs and cooks employed by Australia’s largest high-end restaurant business, Rockpool Dining Group, which found that visa holders were being paid at levels just above TSMIT but well below the award when taking into account the amount of overtime being done…

Put simply, temporary demand for migrant workers often creates a permanent need for them in the labour market. Research shows that in industries where employers have turned to temporary migrants en masse, it erodes wages and conditions in these industries over time, making them less attractive to locals…

A national survey of temporary migrant workers found that 24% of 457 visa holders who responded to the survey were paid less than A$18 an hour.  Not only are these workers not being paid in according with TSMIT, but they are also receiving less than the minimum wage. A number of cases also expose creative attempts by employers to subvert TSMIT. Given the challenges many temporary migrants face in accessing legal remedies, these cases are likely only scratching the surface in terms of employer non-compliance with TSMIT…

Combined, then, with the problems with enforcement and compliance, it is not hard to conclude that the failure to index TSMIT is contributing to a wages crisis for skilled temporary migrant workers… So the failure to index the salary floor for skilled migrant workers is likely to affect wages growth for these workers, as well as to have broader implications for all workers in the Australian labour market.

The evidence is overwhelming:

  • 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 reportrevealed 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.

We’re all coolies now.


  1. Stewie GriffinMEMBER

    How would all those hard working ABC Journalists and Producers be able to work back so late at night on their insightful 4Corners documentaries telling us how great immigration is, if they weren’t able to order in Uber Eats from some exotic inner city African Restaurant delivered by Indian driver?

  2. They were probably only doing jobs Australians won’t do for below subsistence wages, so it’s OK.

  3. The Lab/Lib designed underemployment is about to transition into a tsunami of very p1ssed off voters.

    Que, Mark Latham, has my unashamed and unambiguous support.

  4. fake left is not left – they are disguised neolibs
    proper left would arm all of these immigrants and send them back to their countries to take capitalist governments down

  5. I don’t think everything is about ‘gouging’ by fat cats. I am anti-ABC (it’s bloated, biased and not needed in this day and age and the money would be better spent in mental health as an example). However, you have a lot of stupid people in HR who don’t know how to set up systems properly, and a lot of management consultants and IT project people, who don’t care to do a good job.

    There are HR people that think that if you are casual, and the equivalent permanent salary is $100 base, then just pay the person $50 an hour as a casual. This happens in labor hire a lot (especially when you have a lot of not-very-numerate fluffy HR graduates looking after casual hiring as a stepping stone to more ‘sexy’ fluffy HR work). This is what has happened with nursing and teaching staffing agencies, and with Hays and Stellar recently when it comes to mining recruitment.

    • $50/hr is broadly equivalent to $100k/year, no? Or is he issue that this doesn’t account for the value of leave & insecurity of tenure and so should be, say 15%-20% more?

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      HR is for the untalented ladder climbers of the world who don’t have connections to drag them to the top of middle management. None of them are in risk of being used as an example of independence and ability. It used to take one nerdy clerk to do what takes 10 HRians today.

      I miss capable nerdy clerks. What do they do these days? Blogs I suppose.

      • GunnamattaMEMBER

        To a very large extent I agree completely with that.

        I think much of what we currently do as HR in this world (admittedly i havent been anywhere near it in nearly 20 years now) is utter shite.

        That said I came to the HR world from IR – where everything had a legal angle to it.

  6. The Beetrooter Advocate

    It is not only the ABC – everyone [should] love mass immigration, and Ubers all, and 7-11 $2 days, and Dominos, and hospital food service staff working for labour supply companies. We wouldn’t be where we are now without immigration.

  7. 2.4 million

    Its 2.4 million temporary migrant guestworkers.

    Mostly adult. Mostly third world origin. China, India, North & South East Asia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Middle East & Africa.

    Mostly unskilled.
    Trafficked in by foreign agent procurers, invariably in major loan debt to a foreign criminal & trafficking syndicate.
    Only here on a visa pretext.

    Only here to work illegally, snag a PR & be the anchor in further chain migration.

    Neariy 1 million third world migrant guestworkers are working illegally in blatant visa breach.

    (As a context – we have 1.3 million Australian unemployed, plus 1.1 million seeking work & declining wages & declining GDP per Capita in real terms – and yet Australians still don’t make the causal link…)

    The 2.4 million migrant guestworkers are now nearly 1 in 10 of the people in Australia.

    More guestworkers than Gaddafi at his peak.

    They are 1 in every 5.8 people working.
    Almost half of these migrant guestworkers work illegally in some form of visa breach.

    One in every 11 people working is in some form of visa breach – a whole industry exists of fake ID, cash in hand & other rackets, so no tax paid.

    Often multiple jobs, plus fake ID’s & the ABN and foreign criminal run labour services rackets – almost no enforcement or checking – the migrant guestworkers will only only declare one legal job restricted hours / tax cash back & then the other additional work in another fake ID or cash : no tax.

    Highly concentrated in Sydney & Melbourne.
    1 in 4 or 1.2 million migrant guestworkers in Sydney.
    1 in 5 or 1 million migrant guestworkers in Melbourne.
    400k elsewhere in mini-me migrant ghettos in our other cities.
    Occupying over 650,000 ex Australian dwellings.
    There’s your ‘housing bubble’ & housing affordability crisis.
    There’s your 116,000 Australian permanent homeless out on street & 350,000 without affordable housing.

    They are Permanent stay.
    (NZ SCV permanent stay. Foreign students 4-9 years very long stay, long stay, repeat stay, multiple entry stay.
    They don’t ‘go back’. They are here in whatever visa they can exploit, to work illegally and get a PR / be the anchor for chain migration.

    Visa Category Dec-2018 & visa breach illegal work est.
    🔹Overstayers: 69,000, all work illegally 🔻40,000
    🔹Visitor: 395,000. 40% work illegally 🔻160,000
    🔹Bridging 197,000 explosion Given work rights!
    🔹Foreign Student (672,000) 575,000 on student visa & 97,000 on other visas. partial work rights & partners with full work rights. 75% work illegally 🔻504,000.
    🔹Working Holiday, 148,000 many illegally🔻60,000
    🔹Grad Temp 65,000 Partial rights / illegally 🔻20,000
    🔹Skilled Regional Prov 20,000 – fraud visa 🔻10,000
    🔹Other TR 70,000, wide abuse🔻40,000 work illegally
    🔹Empl Sponsored 152,000 (457 + TSS) visa fraud, cash back & fake wages. Partners as well. 🔻70,000
    🔹Temp ‘Partner’ 90,000 Work illegally 🔻45,000
    🔹NZ SCV 687,000. Have full work rights, over 230,000 non NZ Born Indian & Chinese via ba ck door
    🔹Bus Prov 28,000 Widespread visa fraud 🔻10,000

    Total migrant guestworkers 2,431,000
    Third world unskilled 2,100,000
    Fake visa pretext 1,600,000
    Visa breach work illegally 950,000

      • The Beetrooter Advocate

        Indeed. Interviewing all of those 1,000,000+ visa holders working illegally must have been a truly onerous task.

      • Sure, actually it’s even worse than that.
        (And no interview here btw — the illegal work is organised by the foreign criminal syndicates & agent loan sharks offshore have the job organized long before they arrive – farm, labor rings, vice, Fake Id, ABN, cash in hand)

        As well as the 2.4 million permanent stay or very long stay third world unskilled & mostly adult migrant guestworkers on Temporary visas –
        Of which nearly 1 million are working illegally and in some form of visa breach….
        We ALSO have 8.8 million Tourist arrivals.
        Many on short & medium repeat stay. 3 months, 6 months, repeat tourist visits.
        Mostly from China, South Asia & India.
        The vast bulk aren’t here as ‘tourists staying in hotels spending money’. They also are poor lowlife thirdwirjd who can’t get in on a TR visa. Spend some time st the airport or immigration in flight arrivals.
        They are also the core of the bridging, protection & asylum claims.
        They also come in to use Medicare (completely broken) with a huge onshore industry in medical tourism for Indians & Asians to come here on a tourist visa to ‘borrow’ a PR or frauded Medicare card for free medical treatment & to get the PBS subsided drugs.
        PBS drugs they take back to China or India to sell – which then funds their criminal syndicates & the trip.

        They stay in ‘private shared accommodation’ with the 2.4 million Temporary Residents already here.
        So with an average 3 month tourist visit – the Asians & Indians get max stay & repeat stay tourist durations that’s about 2.2 million onshore at any one time.
        Consuming at least another 200,000 plus Australian dwellings as occupants in ‘visiting’.
        A large percentage are here on a tourist visa only to work. Whether that’s as a nanny, cook, cleaner, farm work, labor rings, vice work – whatever.
        Estimates vary – but the ABF submission in 2016 to the parliamentary enquiry stated that at least 5% or more worked illegally when in Australia.
        Cash in hand, fake ID, flown in by the foreign criminal syndicates for labor rings & vice work etc.
        5% of 8.8 million tourist arrivals yearly is 440,000 third world migrant guestworkers working illegally at any one time over the year.

        So the total number is:
        2.4 million migrant guestworkers (details in original)
        At least 1 million in visa breach working illegally.
        Plus another 440,000 tourist visitors over the year that working illegally in visa breach. The real number would be much higher – probably 15-20%.

        Round numbers conservative estimate:
        1.4 million third world adult migrant guestworkers who are here onshore, working illegally.
        Exceeding our Australian unemployed of 1.3 million.
        There’s your wages loss & lowered GDP per Capita.’

        There’s your housing issue.
        There’s your congestion and overcrowding.
        There’s your core nutrient as to why our cities are vast squalid migrant guestworkers slums full of ‘tourist visitors’.

        It’s not (just) the PR.
        That’s only 190,000 a year or 1.9 million in the last decade. We could reduce the PR intake to zero for the next 10 years and it does nothing to fix the core issue.

        It’s the TR (2.4 million with 1 million criminal illegals in visa breach – and Tourist Visitors (8.8 million and those 440,000 migrants working illegally as well.

        That’s at least 1.4 million third world adult unskilled migrant guestworkers onshore – in visa breach.

    • I love you Mike. I’ve seen this so many times before, but read it beginning to end every time. 🤣👍🏻

  8. innocent bystander

    are all ABC ‘flat-rate’ casual staff temporary migrant workers (TMWs)?

    apart from that I agree about the effect of TMVs
    and also the effects of casualisation.