Labor takes aim at temporary visa tsunami but with what?

Labor’s immigration spokesperson, Kristina Keneally, has taken direct aim at Australia’s ballooning temporary visa numbers, which have surpassed 2.3 million and are second only to the United States (see next chart).

Kristina Keneally wants these numbers reduced, arguing that the temporary migrant tsunami is crushing wages:

Australia currently hosts the second-highest number of temporary migrants in the world, second only to the United States…

Senator Keneally says temporary migration to Australia has been able to continue unchecked, with migrants being filtered into an “underpaid, under-class being used to cut wages and conditions across the country”.

“In the name of lower wages and cheap labour, this government is risking a new and damaging form of social and economic exclusion,” she will say.

According to Senator Kenneally, estimates suggest temporary migrants currently make up 10 per cent of Australia’s younger aged workforce.

“This is about whether we want to stop people working in Australia from putting down roots, raising a family, starting a business, creating ties with their neighbours through sport, volunteering, church or community,” she will argue.

“We understand the benefits of a well-regulated migration program – particularly for skilled workers – but do we, as Australians, as the people of the fair go, really want to create a society in which a growing proportion are permanently locked out of getting a go?”

Senator Keneally will also use the speech as an opportunity to put forward her plans for curbing the problem, including addressing wage theft, reliance on gig-based work and labour exploitation.

A breakdown of the temporary visa statistics shows that the largest contributor to this explosive growth is international students:

Labor is correct that all forms of temporary visas represent a massive labour supply shock that has lowered the bargaining power of local workers and placed downward pressure on wages. But what does it propose to do about it?

Is Labor prepared to crack down on the international student racket, including curbing their automatic work rights and closing the pathway to permanent residency, which are the primary incentives to study in Australia?

Is Labor prepared to significantly lift the $53,900 Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) that applies to Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visas, which has been frozen in place since 2013-14, and has fallen $23,000 below the median full-time Australian salary of $76,900?

Will Labor restore integrity to the ‘skilled’ visa system by making all skilled migrants employer-sponsored and require them to be paid at the 80th percentile of earnings, or indexed to double the median wage? This would ensure that the skilled visa system is used sparingly to import only the ‘best of the best’, not as a general labour market scheme to undercut local workers.

These are the types of questions Labor must answer.

Finally, is Labor proposing to replace temporary visas with a larger intake of permanent migrants?

If so, this would be an even worse policy, given permanent migrants are the fundamental driver of Australia’s long-run population growth (since temporary migrants must eventually leave), and would create an even bigger Australia (and mega cities in Sydney and Melbourne).

Skilled permanent migrants are also appallingly low-paid and, therefore, are also undercutting local workers.

To truly make a difference to wages and living standards, Labor must abandon its globalist ‘open borders’ dogma in favour of deep cuts to immigration – both temporary and permanent.

Not only does this policy make perfect sense economically, but it would be very popular politically, given most opinion polls show a strong preference for lower levels of immigration and a stabilising population.

All Labor needs to argue is that it will slash immigration because:

  1. an excessive flow of migrant workers are displacing locals, reducing employment opportunities and lowering wage growth;
  2. excessive immigration is driving up demand for housing, pushing prices beyond the reach of locals, especially in Sydney and Melbourne; and
  3. excessive immigration is overrunning infrastructure and water supplies, reducing amenity and liveability, and pushing up the cost of living.

Most Australians know these to be true and would resonate with these common-sense arguments.

Moreover, Labor could argue that it is merely seeking to lower immigration back toward the historical (pre-2003) average, and that the new lower intake would still be at the higher end of developed nations:

If Labor is to maximise its chances of winning the next election, it must return to its working class roots and represent the interests of regular Australians over inner-city progressives.

Unconventional Economist
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    • kiwikarynMEMBER

      Nobody knows what the interests of regular Australians are. Their voices have been effectively silenced by the looney left branding everyone other than themselves as a [insert denier/homophobe/racist/bigot/nationalist/white supremacist epithet here]. So we all become two faced – one that nods agreeably along in public, while thinking FU in private.

      • LOL.

        Yes, the media is dominated by newspapers like The Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun and Courier Mail, and radio by personalities by Alan Jones, Ray Hadley and Kyle Sandilands, but it’s the “looney left” driving public opinion.

  1. >“We understand the benefits of a well-regulated migration program – particularly for skilled workers – but do we, as Australians, as the people of the fair go, really want to create a society in which a growing proportion are permanently locked out of getting a go?”

    Considering her party supports the agenda of crush-loading cities and converting universities into international degree printing facilities, I’d say she’s perfectly fine with destroying the concept of a ‘fair go’

  2. KK is not really proposing anything much, apart from her usual Look At Me.

    In effect, via this SMH ‘exclusive’, KK and Abul Rizvi continue their woke inner-city program to brand Labor as the unelectable party of mass migration.

    As Gladys used to say, before they shut her down, halve migration, simple.

  3. Labor just want to increase permanent migration. That is her solution.
    Less temps more permanent.

    • Labors secret weapon for this is the Granny visa, it,s double barrelled & could be upgraded to quad barrels!

      • Had a talk with my local Labor MP a few weeks ago about this. In her words, Labor Right are just as much pro-business open borders as the Libs and Chinese dollars want that to continue, so there’s little hope of internal reform within the party unless Ermo and co can do so.

        • Yep, weird the member actually told you that though as a Labor voter I cannot disagree from the evidence of Labor’s policy. While Labor are a much better alternative for decency their policies do not reflect any concern for the working classes but target the woke Greens type voters instead. I do not get this approach.

    • I suspect you are right.
      she will make any reduction in temporary migrant numbers conditional on an large increase in the refugee intake.
      we sure don’t need any more refugees.
      kenneally is a ‘brown man’ advocate, she is a traitor.

  4. is Labor proposing to replace temporary visas with a larger intake of permanent migrants?

    Yep. That is her solution. But even after getting citizenship, many vibrants continue to work for $10/hour. So granting citizenship is not a solution at all.

    Labor bats for migrants, not Australians

    30,000 Indians, 27,000 British citizens and 17,500 Chinese nationals.

    “They make up just some of the 221,000 people who have “had a go”… so why aren’t they being given a go?” Senator Kenneally says…

    putting their plans to

    apply for government jobs on hold

    Did KK really say that, FFS.

    She wants to give all the government jobs to vibrants. We actually need to ban vibrants from driving trucks so that coal miners can work as truck drivers. How can we have a transition away from coal if all the non-coal jobs are given to vibrants?

  5. Wow, a whiff of actual worker-based policy from Labor!

    But, you are right, Leith – they are still half-baked, and you have some good suggestions.

    Labor, please take note.

  6. Empty words from Labor. All Libs have to do is (wishing and hoping) introduce a bill reforming the Protection visa rort and you’ll see KK and co backflip.

    The fact they censored the Parental Visa brain explosion from their internal review shows they aren’t serious. They’ll be exactly like Ardern – promise the world and actually increase migration. Looks like One Nation are the only ones worth holding your nose and voting for at this stage.

  7. she needs to fight inner labor fake lefties

    I think her plan is to keep permanent program unchanged to win those fake lefties (net permanent immigration is only 100k or so), she’ll maybe need to increase humanitarian numbers to calm down those fake lefties (humanitarian numbers are so low it doesn’t matter)
    but she’ll probably cut temporary immigration, including work rights for some students as well as some other temporary workers
    number will not down much but Labor will use talk about it all around like it’s a game changer – basically same what Conservatives are doing in UK – so many words and so few acts

    • the permanent immigration program is 178,750.
      ‘skilled’ and family reunion is 160,000 places, the humanitarian program is 18,750 places.
      far too many.

      • permanent immigration is 180k but permanent emigration is 90k citizens so net is around 90k which is less than 40% of total net immigration

        without temporary immigration Australia would have less than 23m people now

        • we only need about 50,000 net immigration to maintain Australia population at present number.
          the net immigration is increasing around 250,000 a year and averaging well over 200,000 the past decade or more.
          so the immigration/migration intake needs to be cut by 200,000 a year.

  8. Labor is doing for immigration/ visas policy what the LNP is doing for climate change policy.
    Creating a campaign to make it look like they want to doing something about the issue of a mass/ unfair/ exploited visa system. rather than caring, understanding and exercising immediate action to address the issues.
    Albo also announce he wants an un-elected aboriginal representative in parliament. So one rule for one race and other rules for others. Symbolic nonsense, instead how about making it easier for an aboriginal to get a job or rent/ buy a house by stopping the Visa rort?

  9. What do you mean she needs to “fight inner Labor fake lefties”. Labor fake left and right are as one on pretending to care about workers. The likely plan would be to provide a more guaranteed path to citizenship for temporary residents


  10. Immigration is the biggest issue facing this country and if Labor can implement the suggestions written in this article then they may just become electable.

    • SchillersMEMBER

      Yes, probably…but not if (at the same time) they are going to increase the permanent migrant intake by a big jump in humanitarian, refugee and family reunion visas. They have already touted this. It’s political anathema to the “silent majority”.

      • Yes, Labor must take a leaf out of Trump’s book by running on Australia First and pledging to work for the forgotten Australians ie working and middle class Aussies. That’s what the Labor party was created for but these days they have forgotten their working class roots and have instead embraced leftist and globalist ideology (ie Big Australia, “nation of immigrants”, “diversity is our strength” etc). And despite KK’s statements on temp visas, there is no evidence that Labor have changed their stance on immigration overall so like you, I’m skeptical but I do hope they wake up. Where’s Arthur Callwell when you need him??

  11. plebngineerMEMBER

    It’s unfair that these temporary migrants don’t have Aussie rights. So let’s turn them into permanents.