Migration agents attack Labor’s temporary visa crackdown

Last week, Labor’s immigration spokesperson, Kristina Keneally, rightfully attacked the explosion in temporary visas (see next chart) across the Australian economy, claiming migrant workers were undercutting locals and contributing to Australia’s chronically low wage growth.

According to Keneally:

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.

Keneally’s testimony has drawn a strong rebuke from migration agents, who have labelled her “a union foghorn”:

[Keneally’s] views drew the ire of Migration Alliance, which has more than 4000 members and represents registered migration agents in Australia, with the group telling the senator to “stop playing dirty politics”.

“Effectively what Senator Keneally is trying to do is rob New Zealanders, international students, and working holidaymakers from countries such as Canada, the UK, Ireland, France, South Korea and Japan of the opportunity to live and work in Australia,” Migration Alliance said.

“It is abundantly clear that Senator Keneally is the foghorn for the unions. The unions have long detested the working holiday­maker program, and have been pushing to have it abandoned for years.”

This is hilarious stuff from the Migration Alliance, given the working holiday­maker program has been found by multiple public inquiries to have exploited migrant workers.

Let’s list some of these examples of exploitation.

In 2016, the Fair Work Ombudsman completed an inquiry into Australia’s backpacker visa scheme, which found that “many backpackers are being subjected to underpayment or non-payment, unlawful deductions, sexual harassment, unsafe working conditions and other forms of exploitation”.

The Senate report, entitled A National Disgrace: The Exploitation of Temporary Work Visa Holders, documented widespread abuse of Australia’s Working Holiday Maker visa program, which was “consistently reported to suffer widespread exploitation in the Australian workforce”.

The 2017 National Temporary Migrant Work Survey found that one in every seven temporary migrant fruit and vegetable pickers were paid $5 an hour or less, and a third $10 an hour or less.

In 2018, a group of academics jointly penned an article in Fairfax claiming that exploitation of temporary migrant farm workers is rampant:

Australia already has more backpackers, and relies more strongly on them for horticultural work, than any country…

Unlike agricultural visas in New Zealand, Canada and the United States, and unlike Australia’s own Pacific seasonal worker program, there is no pre-approval of employers. Nor is there systematic ongoing regulation to ensure compliance with workplace laws…

Story after story after story have exposed exploitation on farms…

And last year, more “chronic exploitation” of migrant workers on Australia’s farms was exposed:

Australian authorities are investigating whether dozens of workers from small, remote Fijian villages may be victims of labour exploitation after allegedly being deceptively recruited to work on farms in north-west Victoria.

…a local Victorian MP said worker exploitation was a “chronic” issue in the Sunraysia region, and that the case would not be surprising.

…several people familiar with the workers in the case told the ABC the Fijians reportedly paid roughly $FJ2,300 ($1,545) to a travel agent in Fiji who obtained tourist visas for them rather than working visas.

It’s understood some 40 people arrived in Sydney or Melbourne in small groups in August before being taken to Mildura in north-western Victoria…

AFP Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling said authorities were investigating the case in Australia and Fiji.

“We’re aware of allegations in relation to a number of Fijian nationals, who we believe may be victims of specifically deceptive recruitment and labour exploitation,” she said…

The AFP and ABF carried out two raids in Mildura in October as part of their investigations into that group, and discovered 19 foreigners working in Australia illegally — 16 of whom were from Fiji, in addition to two Tongans and a Malaysian.

ABF said nine of them were also in Australia illegally…

Clearly, the only ones “playing dirty politics” here are migration agents.

Leith van Onselen


  1. Even better when you consider that the vast , vast majority of migration agents are migrants themselves crying because there’s the slightest hint of faux concern about how they’re destroying the nation.

    Won’t anybody think of the poor backpackers who should be allowed to undermine our hard fought IR system on their gap year lark ?

  2. “With Chinese, Russian and Australian history, Triguboff has long championed migrants’ causes. …..And he’s also called for a large increase in immigration, saying Sydney should have a population of 20 million by 2050, and Australia 150 million….He also doesn’t believe in language or values tests for immigrants…..What’s more important for me – a guy who can fix my tap or a guy who can speak English?” he told The Sydney Morning Herald in 2006″

    Migrants have no loyalty to Australia. Australia with 30% foreign born, we are at risk of voting to give away our kids futures.

    Any sensible Australian should be voting to close our borders to migration.

    • Here’s quietly hoping that a plumber mistakenly turns up to deal with Harry’s incontinence issues.

      • John Howards Bowling Coach

        Yes our Aussie Frank Lowy was a sure patriot wasn’t he? Arrived and made his fortune off the back of Australia. Used $millions of public funds to promote his favourite sport from Europe, sold the business to foreigners, no doubt put the cash offshore and then all of a sudden he confesses that he was never really an Aussie, but a merchant who was using Australia before heading to his natural homeland. Well done Frank, you’re almost as bad as High Rise Harry, the scumbag of Sydney.

    • It’s the top 1%, follow the money, they and the ministers live in wealthy onclaves, they are completely insulated from the real world and totally disconnected. But what they all have in common is they know you and your children will feed their and their children’s wealthy happy lifestyle, you on the other hand will get less services, resources and many of you will die in poverty. That’s where is Australia is heading, this is why I think corruption has also upticked in the country because they are simply getting away with more as less people vote. It truly is a broken system. I have always believed if you can’t have a good life because government is vested in their own good life turn to crime.

    • Correct. Reading between the lines, KK doesn’t want to lower migration, she just wants to replace the temporary visas with permanents. Infinite global migrant visa justice must always come before local workers and wages.

    • John Howards Bowling Coach

      KK is just an ambitious ego looking for an opportunity of self promotion. It’s almost astounding that the ALP put her back into power after the NSW voters handed her backside to her for being absolutely useless when she was given the opportunity of a lifetime for a person like her, but delivered nothing but continued failure at the helm of the NSW government. I don’t trust her motives but at least she is highlighting something most of the nation are completely blind to,

  3. New Zealanders, international students, and working holidaymakers from countries such as Canada, the UK, Ireland, France, South Korea and Japan

    Gotta love how they mention those instead of low-wage India, China, Nepal.

    • The sad and sorry truth is that Immigration knows that the Indians, Nepalese etc are committing widescale fraud but won’t say so for fear of being called racist.

    • I’ll take as many from New Zealand, UK, Canada, Ireland, France, South Korea, Japan as I can get and swap out all the Indians, Bangladesh and mainland Chinese.

    • Not one shred of honesty by not saying Indian etc. This is a prime example of why I hate our culture now, it all about manipulation of the facts or of the story. We now have many right wing agendas using the fake left agendas as excuses for policy. Such as saying we need better club houses so more girls can use them and be encouraged to do sport.

  4. John Howards Bowling Coach

    As usual the people making out like bandits in this scam are the earlier migrants who use their one skill, speaking the same language, to exploit their fellow countrymen on arrival. I personally know of a Vietnamese chap who runs a farm worker business in the Mildura region and I could almost guarantee he’d be ripping off the Asian workers he is contracting out to the farms in addition to sexual exploitation of the female travellers who find themselves in what to them is a remote and foreign environment with no access to support or help.
    This on top of the Chinese, Indian, and Nepalese who routinely take over the lives of new arrivals from their country, skimming off their wealth or income while remaining onside a parallel shadow society that now flourishes within our nation. It is a disgrace and needs to be dismantled. When foreigners accuse the locals of racism it is nothing but a whine and attempted PC deflection when you truly peel back the cover and understand how systematically these people are exploiting the previous open and good nature of Australia. Racial stereotypes build up through learned experience, such as what I saw at the airport pickup yesterday, with 2 Indian taxi drivers illegally parked in the short term pickup area, pretending to be waiting for prior bookings all the while harassing the arriving passengers for a job. The security staff, supposed to be preventing this was a fellow Indian, too lazy to do his job, he was standing by a pole where I observed he was busy charging his phone when I drove past. It is no wonder the locals have such a low opinion of Indian drivers and security staff when you see this type of thing ALL THE TIME. Wake up Australia, these people are laughing at us, breaking the law as a matter of course, and then complaining that we won’t allow them to bring in their parents are free babysitters to then go on Medicare…

    Time to close the gates and round up the many who will never add anything to our society and send them back.

    • Mike and I have been telling you about this stuff for years now. And yet some still think that there is some sort of housing surplus, or landlords about to give up the financial ghost.

      Talk about going through life with eyes closed!