Visa system to pit migrants against locals for scarce jobs

The coronavirus lockdown is expected to result in a sharp rise in unemployment and see more Australian workers compete for jobs that are usually held by temporary visa holders. Migration expert Bob Birrell believes the federal government will need to reconsider the visa system and the skilled migration program. Meanwhile, many migrant workers have been laid off but cannot return home due to travel bans; the government may extend their visas and allow them to receive welfare payments:

…the dramatic changes to the labour market wrought by the crisis – mass layoffs are expected as travel, hospitality and service industries shut down – raise questions about the future of the visa system.

“This is potentially a reset of the whole system,” immigration lawyer Jackson Taylor of Hammond Taylor said… there’s a big swathe in the middle where all of a sudden there’s going to be a hell of a lot of unemployment and local skills available for hire that don’t come with the price tag that a temporary migrant comes with”…

Migration expert Dr Bob Birrell said the government would have to re-evaluate its visa policies given the “very large numbers of temporary visa holders already in Australia who are going to be ferociously competing for available work”.

“It will be difficult to sustain a ‘business as usual’ case for the skilled migration program,” he said.

“The hardest hit industries are those that employ temporary casuals and that’s occurring at a time when we have a huge number of temporary visa holders in Australia … it’s going to very difficult for domestic workers, particularly in entry level jobs, to find work.”

Dr Birrell said any significant changes would also have to re-imagine the economy as the government had relied on the migration program to drive economic growth during a time of weak labour productivity.

Australia’s reliance on temporary migrants is bordering on ridiculous, with 2.3 million residing in the country in late 2019, up 640,000 (38%) since 2012:

This flood of temporary migrants, many of whom are ground zero for wage theft and exploitation, and have been paid at below market rates, are a key reason why Australian wage growth has remained stillborn and there is so much labour overcapacity across the economy.

With potentially millions of Australians soon to become unemployed, the last thing workers need is to be competing for scarce jobs with large swathes of temporary migrants.

Once this crisis is over, and air travel has resumed, the federal government must send a significant proportion of these “temporary” migrants back to their home countries.

Leith van Onselen
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      • even if they get full welfare, 1 million will leave the country voluntarily
        for many it’s better to go back home with tens of thousands (credit card limits are high in Australia) than to be poor here

        • This assumes they’ve got somewhere better to go.

          They don’t.

          Sydney and Melbourne may be disutopian but the rest of Australia is pretty rad totally rascialist but rad.

        • Ordinarilly this would be true but they can’t leave without flights and may not be let in to their place of birth anyway

          This could change once virus is under control, however..

  1. “Meanwhile, many migrant workers have been laid off but cannot return home due to travel bans”
    We have a law prohibiting non-residents leaving Australia? First I’ve heard of it. There might be difficulty in getting flights but this is not a ‘travel ban’. Further, no country is going to prohibit their own citizens from returning.

  2. Birrell is right about the migration program, but so far there is zero fresh information on Treasury migration targets or Home Affairs’ intentions, and “business as usual” is precisely what the brand new COAG population framework assumes.

    Labor, Greens, academics, and journalists, aren’t asking any questions, because they all support Big Australia, and apparently not even the COVID cataclysm would incline them to pursue the public interest with any vigour.

  3. The govt has a once in a generation opportunity to break the back of the population Ponzi. They don’t have to artificially prevent a recession (it’s coming anyway) and the wages aren’t going anywhere for a few years.

    Do it now, ScoMo. At least leave one legacy for your miserable time in the top job.

  4. Call and send an email to your local MP to tell them that you expect healthcare and jobs to be prioritised for citizens. I’ve emailed a my MP (my local one is Scummo), along with other ministers to let them know my displeasure. Tell your mates to do the same, particularly those doing it tough right now.

  5. I am sick of government programs being poorly designed to allow rorting by (often) foreign parties and “new” Australians.
    Now we will directly pay foreigners…

    They over tax us, they replace us, they progressively remove our self-determination.. any justice would see real Australians on a tax strike until our borders are under control and those without deeper links to the nation deported.

    • TailorTrashMEMBER

      Salvatore is worried for his job ……..not surprised ….given his honesty and outspokenness I’m sure he is in his VC’s sights
      ….good to see our universities still have thinkers like him ……good interview

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