Temporary visa migrants need emergency welfare support

Former deputy secretary of the Department of Immigration, Abul Rizvi, has launched a well thought out plan to extend emergency welfare support to the millions of temporary visa holders trapped in Australia without work:

The JobKeeper Payment is a massive tourniquet for the Australian economy and society. But for over one million temporary entrants, the allowance is a gun to their head…

Precisely because it encourages employers to maintain their Australian and New Zealand citizen workforce, very few employers will have an incentive to retain any employee who is the holder of a temporary entry visa other than NZ citizens…

The allowance will dramatically accelerate the sacking of temporary entrants such as:

  • around 500,000 international students;
  • 140,000 working holidaymakers;
  • 120,000 skilled temporary entrants;
  • 90,000 temporary graduates;
  • over 200,000 bridging visa holders, most of whom are either partner visa applicants or asylum seekers; and
  • over 16,000 temporary protection visa holders.
  • In addition, there are around 60,000 overstayers as well as an unknown number of people on visitor visas — as we do not know how many of the 600,000 visitors in Australia in December 2019 have gone home…

Unless the Federal Government acts soon, it will have created a humanitarian disaster within Australia…

First, the immigration minister should announce regulations implementing a blanket rule automatically providing all temporary entrants in Australia – including visitors currently in Australia – whose visas will expire before 30 June 2019, with a new visa of the same type they currently hold, with validity until 31 August 2020…

Second, the health minister should create a new Medicare item enabling all temporary entrants and overstayers to attend a doctor – including by telehealth if appropriate – at no cost if they have flu symptoms or may have been in contact with someone who has recently returned from overseas…

Third, the social services minister should issue regulations enabling all temporary entrants with work rights currently in Australia – including NZ citizens and visitors if they must self-isolate – with access to special benefits until 31 July 2020, given many will lose their jobs and will find it difficult to get home…

Fourth, the social services minister should issue regulations providing a once-off payment equal to the cost of a flight home for temporary entrants (including visitors, overstayers and unsuccessful asylum seekers) without the financial capacity to get home…

Arrangements with relevant foreign governments to compensate the Australian Government for these payments should be negotiated…

The treasurer should extend the job keeper allowance to any temporary entrant currently working in critical occupations such as health and aged care…

Sixth, the immigration minister should then introduce a regulation enabling any temporary entrant working in these occupations to be able to secure a further 12-month visa of the type they are currently on by applying entirely online or over the telephone and on a no-application-fee basis…

Seventh, the immigration minister should increase places available for partners of Australian citizens and permanent residents in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 migration program. This should be possible without increasing the overall program as there will likely be a large shortfall in the overall program due to the coronavirus…

Finally, noting it will not be possible to deliver the Offshore Humanitarian Program in 2019-20 or likely in 2020-21, the immigration minister should fast track permanent protection visas for the over 16,000 long-term temporary protection visa holders in Australia to take up the places freed up.

It is well beyond time that the Coalition Government recognised there is zero chance these people will ever be able to go home, so there is no point keeping them on temporary protection visas.

The Morrison Government needs to act on the above urgently to avoid a humanitarian disaster.

It’s hard to disagree with Abul Rizvi on this issue. The last thing Australia wants is a humanitarian disaster within our borders, including large numbers of impoverished and homeless temporary migrants. We want them to self-isolate to help contain the virus, just like Australian permanent residents are being required to do.

We also want temporary migrants to return home wherever possible, which Abul Rizvi has catered for in his plan.

However, beyond the immediate crisis, the Australian Government must take concrete steps to reduce Australia’s immigration intake, both temporary and permanent.

The number of temporary migrants with Australia has hit absurd levels, with 2.3 million in the country as of late 2019, up 640,000 (38%) since 2012:

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

They have also helped to crush-load Sydney and Melbourne.

Permanent migration also needs to be significantly lowered. With potentially millions of Australians soon to become unemployed, the claim that Australia is experiencing skills shortages and requires a massive (108,000-strong) skilled migration intake is unambiguously bunk.

With mass unemployment looming, the last thing Australian workers need is to be competing for scarce jobs with huge numbers of migrants.

Once the coronavirus crisis has passed, and air travel has resumed, the federal government must send a significant proportion of “temporary” migrants back to their home countries, as well as slash the migrant intake.

Unconventional Economist
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    • drsmithyMEMBER

      Oh yeah. When I saw this article post I had to go and check on my supply of popcorn.

      • Did you refill your own supply of methane for self-inhalation purposes while you get ready to deliver more of that vacuous, approval seeking self-flagellation shtick that you’re famous for?

        If not better go now. Stewie will be along shortly to eviscerate you.

        • drsmithyMEMBER

          Ya shouldn’t use big words you don’t understand because someone else told you to.

          • Ergh, your comebacks are even more cringe than your usual commentary.

            Razor sharp as always.

          • drsmithyMEMBER

            With so little material to come back to there’s not a lot I can do, I’m afraid.

            Silk purse, sow’s ear, etc.

            Careful you don’t strain a muscle patting yourself on the back.

      • At least we know any proposal will be modest, subject to great scrutiny and not rorted.
        Take free telehealth for any temporary migrant who has flu-like symptoms or has had contact with a COVID patient. There is no way either the GP or migrant would allow for rampant numbers of consults and discuss other health issues all under the guise of the temporary migrant feeling like they might have COVID.

  1. Lenny Hayes for PMMEMBER

    Below quote posted in another thread:

    “Bized faculties in Melbourne are starting to hear from students who have had it here and want to go home to China

    Word is some say if they have to study on-line they may as well do it where their families are. Plus, it’s getting tough here, their jobs are mostly, mainly, gone.

    Granted getting into China isn’t easy and there are no hard numbers yet but it does not augur well for international numbers later in the year.”

  2. “Hey we chose to come here from another country, give us free sht.”

    Absolutely not. You’re supposed to have enough money to support yourself as a condition of your visa, including your return, especially international students.

    Rizvi is Mr Cash for Comment and spent his entire career in CBR. Perfect personification of the CBR bubble where he has all these ideas and no fkn idea how to implement them at a practical level and what the financial and logistical cost will be. But that’s not his problem and if he was still employed he would be putting that right on his CV in his next SES promotion interview.

    Migrants can go to the back of the queue behind the 2 million unemployed at centrelink.

    • The 21st century boom in net migration, is beyond Rizvi’s wildest dreams, as a former Immigration Dep Sec. But he’s always coming back for more, and to help Keneally put the finishing touches on Infinite Global Migrant Visa Justice.

      Even now, amid global calamity, our elite agrees, Big Australia isn’t for turning, and may not even be discussed.

    • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

      With QANTAS’s entire fleet grounded, it would be cheap to charter them and fly the whole lot home rather than any solution that pays them a couple grand a month in stand-over money, simply to stop them from going on a rampage robbing and looting the rest of Australia simply because their immediate gravy train ran out.

      As Peachy has written elsewhere, after the above has been done – then we can start talking about welfare for any of those who can’t be sent back due AND who don’t have the means to fund their prolonged stay in Australia.

      I don’t want Aussie welfare going to support short term work or holiday based migrants who could be looked after in their own nations.

    • Mr SquiggleMEMBER

      Yeah. the only way i would agree to the socialist support of migrants is if it was through some sort of exchange of governemnt payments, eg like Pension payments can be exchanged if citizens arestaying in another county. So if the safety net stuff for temporoary migrants is charged back to their home country, i could live with it

    • If international students were honest on their student visa applications,then they should have no problem surviving in Australia.

  3. Australia is such a fvck up. Though this is what happens when a country is sold out on all levels for the last 40 years, but I know let us invoke the ANZAC spirit.

  4. They can obtain a federally funded loan on the proviso they repay the loan with CPI AND return home permanently within 2 years. If they attempt to flee, they must pay it at the airport just like a HELP debt.

  5. And, if the GDP numbers are hugely reliant on the large migration numbers, then that chance of reducing this is………???????

  6. adelaide_economistMEMBER

    Sounds great in theory and while from one point of view it is ridiculous that we are in this situation, it’s not like MacroBusiness and most of the people who comment on here haven’t been calling it out for years. Unfortunately the many vested interests in this army of cheap and exploitable labour operate on the premise that nothing could ever go wrong and when it does (like now) the taxpayer will wear the cost – as is happening. There is little chance any payment of airfare to these temps will be used for airfare unless it’s set aside for that specifically; they’ll spend it then hit twitter with tales of woe looking for more.

    Ask their governments for the money? Seriously? China paying up? India paying up? Nepal paying up? The Germans might since they are easy to guilt but I doubt German backpackers make up much of the temp workforce. Even the New Zealanders aren’t that trustworthy these days – big on what Australia should do for them but not so keen on what they should be doing for us.

    More importantly is the long term outcome. I still don’t see either the ALP or Libs (for the well known reasons on both sides) doing anything at all about the scale of this. The ALP solution of making them all permanent overnight (which will be followed by rebuilding a new, even bigger temporary labour force over the following few years) is a nothing and the Libs won’t want to see overall numbers changed by much if at all. I think we’re just going to get a lot of image management and hoping the average person doesn’t realise all the ‘benefit’ of these migrants accrues to the migrants and those who exploit (oops, hire) them while all the cost – both during the ‘good’ times and the ‘bad’ gets dumped on the rest of us.

  7. haroldusMEMBER

    Well the students will be OK because they are here to study and will have their own funds.

    In fact the removal of the distraction of work will increase grades and thus improve their edumacational experience, thereby increasing the quality of graduates, thereby increasing the quality of life in the home country of the students when they inevitably return.

  8. Every lie is eventually discovered. The truth does eventually come out.

    The Australian “Labor” party does not represent and work in the best interest of Australian labourers and workers.

    The Australian “Green” party does not work in the interest of the Australian natural environment.

    “Temporary” visa holders in Australia as not temporary in the true sense of the word temporary. They are in Australia permanently.

    We have a fake workers party, a fake environmental party and fake temporary workers, amongst many, many others fakes and frauds:
    * fake regulatory bodies
    * fake Australian standards
    * fake work practice rules that are not enforced
    * fake foreign investment reviews
    * fake voluntary self quarantine
    * fake freedom of information

    help me add to my list

      • there’s currently 24335 Properties for rent in Sydney Region, NSW according to Domain.

        seems like a lot, wouldn’t you say ?

        • So the fabled property glut is finally upon us and we can all rent nice Accommodation cheaply, or buy it, if we choose to?

          Is That what you’re saying?

          Next step – shut down MB? What will davo and Leitho do, then?

          • i was merely providing an actual figure to answer your famous Peachy snarc. You can go erecting all the strawmen you want

          • Can you contextualise your figure? Please? Is 24,000 a lot or a little? Are the properties of good quality and in good location? How do the number and quality of properties compare to what is required (in terms of wuality, number, location) for people who are after rented dwellings?

            How has that changed over time?

            Hmmm? Hard questions to answer.

            All I’m doing is suggesting that, as a time saving device, rather than try to answer all of these questions, we look at the price that these rentals are available at. A high/unaffordable price would strongly suggest that there is not a glut, but a shortage.

            A low/affordable price would suggest a glut, or at least absence of shortage.

            What do you reckon? Does the Peachy Property Price Measurement methodology make sense?

          • Im seeing rents starting to collapse..
            There is a glut of places on the market which is growing and increased discounting.
            It is very real.

        • I think it represents about 1% of total stock which is about 3% of rental stock so about normal.
          What i am expecting to see as a result of the decline in Air BnB stays is that most of these properties move into the long term rental market. As there are many thousands of Air BnB rentals in city locations this should nearly double the available rentals in the city. In Sydney and Melbourne City there are about 5,000 rentals each. Add in Air BnB and this could double that figure producing a meaningful albeit localised jump in vacancy.

    • * fake judicial independence
      * a fake electoral commission
      * fake building codes
      * fake medical insurance
      * fake bank solvency

  9. This proposal is too soft.

    We end up in messes all the time because we are too fkn soft to dish out any pain to anyone. And then we wonder why so many people come here to live 12 to a room….

    Step one should be to send home anyone and everyone who:
    A) can’t self fund their continued presence in this country
    B) can be sent home (ie destination country borders are open)

    Then we can talk about temporarily extending welfare/Medicare/whatever to those who satisfy A, bit don’t satisfy B.

    Edit… and what my mate Hado said: https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2020/04/temporary-visa-migrants-need-emergency-welfare-support/#comment-3769890

    • adelaide_economistMEMBER

      Yep, they know there’s no enforcement. It’s as if the government think they don’t talk amongst themselves.

      Case in point. ABC story of a Brazilian temp. When asked about who his guarantor was, he said he put his brother’s name down as he had some money. But now that brother had a child (time unspecified) so he’s sweet out of luck. Um… this is the due diligence our famed border force or whatever agency does that now gets? Clearly there is zero interest at all in checking the bona fides of any of these people. Any ‘normal’ person would assume a ‘student’ must surely put $10k into a bond with the government so that if things go pear shaped, there’s enough to cover the cost of finding them (if need be) and booking them on however many flights it takes to get them back to where they came from. But this is Straya, where everything is a rort.

    • Peach, you sound like Scomo, you’re way over-complicating things.

      Send them all home for free, tell them they can come back next year and then cancel their visas once they’re all gone.

  10. The government should also be looking to support Australian casual workers who currently fall through the gaps of the Job Seeker and Job Keeper schemes.

    • I think there should also be a pet allowance. My dog is upset as this WU FLU has caused his exercise regime to be stymied.

  11. Instead of bailing out Qantas and Virgin, give them both $500 a head to fly these unemployed temporary visa holders back to their home country ASAP and cancel their visas on exit. A nation can’t afford millions of unemployed citizens on government payments competing with foreign workers who will undercut them just to stay here.

    • Many of the bosses who pay very low wages would beg to differ.
      Migrant workers are essential in keeping wages low low low. There mere presence stops Aussie workers asking for more.

      You’ll be called a racialist if you dare to disagree.

      • We all know they’re imported solely for the purpose of wage suppression and profit maximisation, with the added benefit of cheap, easy and carefree GDP growth.

        There is a yawning opportunity for a new political party to emerge that puts Australians first and does so with sensible centrist policies, instead of right-wing rabble-rousing of the bogan empire. If Murdoch saw that he’d change sides in a heartbeat, as he has done so often in the past.

        Just because we’ve been stuck with a status quo of Lib/Lab grifters and incompetence doesn’t mean power stays with the same charlatans in times of great upheaval. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance…

        • Narapoia451MEMBER

          What are the chances of a new party being able to build up the infrastructure, capabilities and experience to effectively govern the country on a short timeframe. I agree with you that there needs to be a change – free trade deals and mass immigration have been devastating for workers in pretty much every developed country where they have been implemented.

          So is it quicker to try change one of the experienced parties policy or try and found a whole new viable party of government.

          • bolstroodMEMBER

            It is the “experience “that is the problem.
            Australians Uber Others Party

        • I am surprised Latham has been quiet. Would love to hear him unload on the Chinese. At least Pauline said a few words,

    • Exactly. Talk of retaining millions of 3rd worlders who will work for nothing to stay here is crazy at a time when masses of Australians are unable to find jobs,.

  12. Yeah right, Government enforces laws that discourage holding casuals for longer than 12 months, then brings in other laws to pay businesses on behalf of casuals who have worked for them for more than 12 months, and now some migrant wants all temporary migrants to be paid money that, due to the casualization of our workforce is restricted,and doesn’t bat an eyelid in saying it. Send him, and all temporary migrants home now!!!!

  13. BoomToBustMEMBER

    The easiest way to lower our unemployment rate to to send all the ineligible migrants home leaving many more Australians residents with the ability to find work. Dont give the airlines a handout, pay for one way flights. 2 birds. 1 Stone. Problem solved.

  14. Gareth InghamMEMBER

    G’day – 1st post….learning a lot from you lot…funny buggers too!

    Australian citizen support needs to come 1st.

    Optimistic view on my behalf considering the entire education and majority services industries are predicated on teaching BS degrees to below award wage students delivering take out. We have done what the US has done to Central and South Americans, created a 2nd tier citizenship of people who serve the Australian populace in jobs they dont want.

    With several million queuing at centrelink my guess is those jobs will now be wanted but at wages that are real. This will force the under payers (Dominos, 7 Eleven etc) to actually improve their business rather than salary rorts. If your business only works because you steal from staff then either you dont charge enough or don’t deserve to be in business. By the way, I think the same of the banks and the way they steal from customers.

    Our sovereign debt will be substantial post this mess and it does not make sense to me in subsidizing foreigners who cannot afford to live here without support as per conditions of their Visa. I would rather see higher payments to AU citizens who need it.

    We have a national carrier with planes parked on the ground and 20,000 staff “on leave”. Here is the deal to foreign visa holders. You are 100% welcome to stay if you can afford to stay as per the original conditions of the Visa. If not, Australia will offer you 2 opportunities to depart (at our expense) back to your country of origin. Those who face a so called “humanitarian crisis” will be supported until they are allowed to return.

    It would be a criminal act by our government to support these people ahead of those AU citizens who have lost their jobs but do not qualify for jobseeker or jobkeeper programs.

  15. If these migrants, already befouling our country are paid to stay here I cannot say how deep a depression this would cause inside of me.

    We have been so utterly robbed of our nation and sense.
    Revolution is in order.

  16. nexus789MEMBER

    Could give the Qantas and Virgin fleets something to do by flying them all home. For free would probably be cheaper than paying out benefits to create a permanent and massive pool of low/no skill unemployed.

    • Don’t forget “Start the boats” (the opposite of Stop the boats) campaign someone mentioned here before. Those cruise ships companies are also looking for something to do for the next 50 years as noone in the current or next generation is climbing on one of those..

  17. John Howards Bowling Coach

    Leith I am a little surprised that you have taken the sympathy route on this give how much you understand about the issue at hand. There are very few actual reasons to give any type of handout to the Temporary Residents and in the not too distant future even the Permanent Residents need to be cut out of any financial support.

    Soon enough the government will see the stark reality that a re-start of this economy is not going to happen. It was been stopped dead for a long time after this for so many in Australia and the rest of the globe. SO, with the massive cost of the bail out to the people, which needs to be paid back some true soul searching needs to be done on who is going to pay back that handout in terms of tax paid in the future. The harsh reality is that these recent and temporary arrivals pay little to no tax, so there is virtually no real benefit to Australia to keep them. Yes it will be very hard for them, being pulled out of the magnificent nation they have wondered into from their home country, but we can’t save the world when our own head is deep under water.

    Secondly these people are displaying a very high propensity to cheat and take advantage of the handouts, to bite the hand that not only feeds them but provided an escape from China for example. I have personally seen many many messages that my other half showed me from Chinese chat groups online in the last few days, with plans and suggestions on how to grab the government bailouts from us the people of Australia. They are already neck deep into the cash grab. This is a wet dream for this massive group of people with no loyalty to this country, money for nothing and they are laughing at us.

    We’re being made fools of.

    • bolstroodMEMBER

      “We are being made fools of.”
      Yes we are but the temp Visa holders are not to blame.
      The people (and Corporations)who bring them here to lower our wages, who now under pay (steal from )
      Austrlian workers,who do not pay their taxes , these are the people who deserve our wrath.

      • John Howards Bowling Coach

        While you are at least partly right I see that escape clause as a cop out. Just because for example the Indian Uber Eats rider is being taken advantage of by a corporate seemingly for the benefit of the local lazy consumer, doesn’t exempt the lies they told about coming here to study for example. Just because the wealthy Chinese was allowed to by the government, doesn’t excuse them to cheating the Visa system and running a fake business enabled by their fellow countrymen and abusing the FIRB rules to buy up property. Sure they are enabled by our government and those influencing their policy, but that doesn’t leave them blameless and/or innocent. Right and Wrong still exist in a cloudy pond.

  18. The simplest and cheapest solution is to give any temporary migrant who has lost their job, enough money to organise a flight home, otherwise they will be competing with millions of Australians for very few jobs in 6 months..They are not out responsibilty after all. Addul use to talk sense on immigration but not anymore.

  19. Australia cannot afford to give money to temporary visa holders.
    The deal was clear on entry. Temporary. Limited work rights. That’s it.

  20. Meanwhile, the British government is being told by self-serving lobbies over there that charter flights to bring in agricultural workers from eastern Europe are urgently needed – otherwise fruit and vegetables will be left unpicked in Britain’s fields!

    Commentator Ed West:

    “What a brilliant idea. Right in the middle of a lethal pandemic killing thousands a day, let’s fly over 90,000 fruit pickers from eastern Europe to pick fruit, while keeping millions of young people here imprisoned in their homes.

    British people, of course, are genetically incapable of picking fruit so we must bring them in from Bulgaria.

    Here’s a fun exercise. Google “crops rotting in the field” or something to that effect and go through the news story covering this terrible danger down the years – there are dozens of them.

    Then type into the search bar “wages” and see what you find. The usual result is, of course, nothing; no counter-response that British workers are capable of doing this labour but would demand higher wages than foreign workers. We simply have to hire immigrants, sorry!

    Centre-left papers run this genre of story the most, and if it seems odd that they are not on the side of higher wages, then it all makes sense if you look at the modern economy as a sort of informal caste system.”


  21. Agree with md et al. Fly them out with a couple of provisos for first out. Show a statement of earnings and super from your employer. Cant or wont admit this then we second a cruise ship and disinfect the death ship and ship the fucks offshore. Wont take long for those with nothing to lose to inform on the sleazy areshole fucks who where/are rorting the system. Double the ATO staff immediately and bankrupt the areseholes who are about to claim a govt. hard done by bullshit line. You wouldn’t honestly let some arsehole employer double dip this shit by previously underpaying the staff and claim a handout as well????
    Its time to fuck both of them off.

  22. Apologies if pasted elsewhere


    The Council of International Students Australia (CISA), the peak body representing international students in Australia is calling for welfare packages with financial support for international students in Australia.

    Its Education Officer Domi Dana Johnson says international students are amongst the highest contributors to Australia’s economy and as such, their contributions should be used in providing support to them.

    She also says the education cost should be lowered as the courses have moved to an online model.

    ‘Unprecedented circumstances’ caused by COVID-19
    The organisation also has urged the stakeholders to strongly consider welfare packages for international students stating the “unprecedented circumstances” are causing a lot of distress.