Regional Australia demands its visa slaves

The Inquiry into Migration in Regional Australia has released its report which claims that Australia’s $53,900 Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) is too high for regional employers:

2.16 The Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) was another matter that was raised regularly during the course of this inquiry.

2.17 According the to Department of Home Affairs, the TSMIT is designed to ensure that overseas workers are paid no less than an Australian worker would if they did the same job in the same location. At present, the TSMIT is set at $53,900, and in order to qualify for a skilled visa, an employer must both demonstrate that an overseas worker will be paid a salary higher than the TSMIT, and in accordance with the annual market salary rate for that occupation. The Committee heard that this caused particular problems in some regional areas where some skilled jobs have salaries below $53,900.

2.18 The Government of South Australia summarised the view put by many submitters on the TSMIT:

“Where an employer can’t fill a vacancy locally, nationally set conditions like the TSMIT can make it unappealing to fill the vacancy with a migrant instead. In some industries, the TSMIT substantially exceeds the highest award wage, making it expensive and unlikely that the employer will use the migration system to address the workforce shortage. This only has a deleterious effect on regional productivity”.

2.19 The ACCI argued that the TSMIT should be adjusted to reflect market conditions in regional areas:

“To reflect differences in the market pay and the cost of living between cities and regional Australia and to assist in minimising the difference in the market rate of pay between an overseas worker and an Australian worker doing the same role, the TSMIT as an income floor should be 10 percent lower for regional areas (defined as work outside the capital city metropolitan areas of all states and territories)”.

The $53,900 TSMIT has been in place since 2013-14 and has fallen $3,300 (6%) below the median income of all Australians ($57,200), which includes unskilled workers:

It is also a whopping $22,400 (29%) below the $76,300 median full-time earnings of all Australians.

By being set so low, this $53,900 TSMIT has incentivised Australian employers to hire cheap migrants instead of local workers, as well as abrogated the need to provide training.

On this point, consider the testimony from Joanna Howe, Senior Lecturer in Law at University of Adelaide:

This [wage] 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 [temporary skilled shortage] visa to be used in lower-paid jobs…

TSMIT is intended to act as a proxy for the skill level of a particular occupation… TSMIT’s protective ability is only as strong as the level at which it is set…

But since 1 July 2013, TSMIT has been frozen at a level of A$53 900… 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.

Clearly, lowering the TSMIT by another 10% for regional employers would de-skill Australia’s visa system even further, undercutting Australian workers and lowering wage growth.

Instead of further debasing the skilled migration program, the wage floor for all skilled migrants (both permanent and temporary) should be lifted to the 75th percentile of earnings (currently $85,852).

This would ensure that the skilled visa scheme is used sparingly by employers for only highly skilled migrants, not as a general labour market tool for undercutting local workers and eliminating the need for training.

Leith van Onselen
Latest posts by Leith van Onselen (see all)


  1. This “Ministry of Silly Walks” inquiry kept tele-meeting till 19 March, after which COVID mercifully put it to sleep.

    With any luck, it’ll never wake up. That would be one less footy for Albotross to fumble and kick out of bounds.

  2. they should get their visa slaves so they can overwhelm tiny regional hospitals in no time.
    my guess is that 25 year old worker with no comorbidities would get a ICU bed over 60 year old farm owner if we get into the triage situation

    • Things have been past breaking point for ages in the bush, but you’ll never hear about it. Hospitals & Ambo’s are already Ridiculously overwhelmed, morale is down the gurgler & funding is being cut Further. Any half serious stuff always goes to the cities where better, higher paid Specialists hang with more machinery – if you make it in time….. It’s already a choice that most city refugees have to consider when they leave the big smoke – including the younger ones with kids.

      We’ll see if you laugh at the (state government created) absurdity when it’s time for you & your comorbidities to be making those decisions.

    • nothing wrong with a 60yo farmer dying is there, psychopath.
      The thought of it makes you laugh out loud..
      have you checked Sweden’s stats lately? they haven’t turned any corner yet, months after you said they’d be all sorted.

      • but those 60 yo farmers want that … badly … just to make few more bucks by exploiting slaves

        BTW. Sweden is just fine, none of your 1000 dying per day predictions cane near the truth …
        Sweden is doing better than some of the countries with the earliest and most strict measures ever introduced e.g. Scotland

          • a country is not necessarily an independent sovereign state
            in fact, as you would be surprised, but Constitutional definition of Scotland (as well as England and Wales) is “country”

  3. As far as I’m concerned it makes more sense to stop this charade completely
    Stop pretending that this isn’t theft on a grand scale
    Stop pretending that our own kids are not the ones that are paying for our mindless games
    Stop pretending that the dots are not connected
    Maybe it’ll be enough if we just stop pretending!

    • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

      Thanks to Multiculturalism – “Who Are We” ?

      “We” aren’t denying our kids – there is no “We” anymore, just a free for all economic zone were the most meritous worker or community wins out.

      “We” can be anybody who comes here – under Multicuturalism these migrant workers are just as Australian as anyone else, they just haven’t obtained a passport yet.

      You can’t begin fighting for your kids until you see you kids as being part of a united community or society, otherwise they’re just the spawn of one of the individual actors working in an economic zone.

      • there is no “We” anymore
        Good point but it sort of assumes that there was a “we” at some point in our history.
        Was there a “we” when my Dad learned a few words of Italian so that he could get the “just off the boat” concreters to do the job properly (as defined by “do it his way”)
        Was there a “we” when my grandfather (first generation Austrian immigrant) lost both of his brothers fighting for Queen and country.
        Was there a “we” when the Irish side of my family were shipped to Australia in chains.
        I’m not certain that your concept of “we” has ever really existed in Australia. For me this “we” that you talk of isn’t some structure of the past but rather reflects the future that “we’re” building for our kids. As such it is not a future where all advantage lies in the past (your we) but rather it’s a future that is must brighter than our past. My future is a far more inclusive future where average Aussies carve advantage out of nothing but the fair and level pitch that they themselves create.
        It’s a different kind of “we” but one that you might enjoy being a part of.

        • The90kwbeastMEMBER

          I don’t think anyone is denying the contribution of migrants, that we have and need them or the fact that there are people in Australia who are the descendants of migrants, I am one of them. But when immigration is run at the levels it is, it is population replacement and screws over incumbent residents in almost every way, for the benefit of capital.

          • for the benefit of capital
            I would modify this to read, for the benefit of Debt.
            maybe it looks like I’m just playing with semantics but this difference is important.
            Debt is a structure created with the sole intention of imposing upon the next generation
            Capital by contrast is a structure devised to enable the efficient organization of today’s labour, this efficiency is not intended to reward the our exclusive past but rather to reward our inclusive future.
            In this sense financial Capital is destroyed by Debt and Human Capital becomes debt’s prisoner.

        • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

          BSD there was a we to begin with – they were Colonial Australians, the descendants of the first fleet, convicts and free settlers that formed the embryotic hybrid Anglo-Celtic society which founded the nation, our cities and towns and all the institutions we hold dear as Australians. It was unique and new, such that even by the mid 1800’s we were known to have developed our own peculiar accent and identity.

          But you are also right, it didn’t stop there – it went on to include everyone who wanted to become Australian, as in PART of our society. Yes, we broadened our intake to include other regions of Europe, like Italy and our society prospered as they integrated and assimilated into our own, taking on our own identity, our own history, and our own cultural touchstones, like Gallipoli and the ANZAC, and the notions of mateship, etc.

          But do you know what – that ended in the mid 1960s, when a particular ethnic group originally from Eastern Europe and one which was notoriously difficult to integrate objected to the idea that they should be come Australian, which was still despite the intake from other regions of Europe predominantly centered around a Colonial Australian identity of broad Christian flavour.

          They commenced lobbying in Australia, like they did in many other nations, that it was immoral that we should require immigrants to integrate and assimilate into our culture – and so white privilege and opposition to the colonial founders cultural majority was formed. It established a division in our society where the was none before, previously we were all Australians, now we had become the immoral, repressive majority and the various repressed minorities. To the point where the latest Green Senator claims to be Indigenous but not Australian.

          This is he cancer that is eating away at our collective identity, our cultural touchstones and our ability to form a consensus and that was the moment it was born.

          It doesn’t matter what the cultural values of the majority want – we were never asked if we wanted to see our society transformed and divided up among others that had contributed zero to its founding, it was bi-partisanly imposed on us from above. What matters is the cultural values of the elite, or the majority of the elite, the donations they make, the people the favour and the policies that they demand.

          We have replaced a united Australian identity, inherited from our founders, with one that is based around relativity, pursuant to whichever identity you choose to claim. There can be no agreement or consensus now, only disagreement and repression, that is the end game of identity politics.

          The dysfunction in our society, our inability to resolve intractable problems for which their are obvious solutions, like house prices, is the price we pay for the diversity that a multicultural society results in.

          There is a reason that monotheism as a religious practice now dominates the world in terms of total numbers, because following a single God, a single set of cultural values, delivers the ability for a society to reach a consensus far quicker than a multi-deity society. Indians may rue the fact that they were taken over by the British, but imho that was the only reason there still exists a Hindu population today – if not for the British they would be ALL Pakastani muslims by now.

          The issue is, having a single social indentity, a united set of social and cultural values, is a distinct advantage in terms of allowing societies to most efficiently solve the economic problem of using the available resources to meet its needs.

          The only reason Australia and other Western nations have had the appearance of success, is that we use a tremendous amount of the worlds resources to meet the increasingly diverse needs of its resident population:

          The problem is, which most people don’t realise, is that we are now on the downward slope in terms of resource availability – and the moment our beautiful, diverse, Multicultural tapestry of a society fails to meet the needs of its least integrated, least flexible, least tolerant community that it has invited to live within its borders, then it will all fall apart.

          • In any Utopian dream there exists only one struggle
            Your We and Us and Them narratives are all just labels invented to drive a wedge between those who struggle against the very same injustice.
            These We, Us and Them narratives create and reinforce the debt that makes us slaves to debt, These narratives are the injustice.
            Think about it, these group defining words exist primarily in the past tense.
            Anyone that defines their future in terms of Us and Them is by definition living in the past and as such has by definition little or no vision of the future.

          • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

            You cannot have a united future, when everyone is working towards projecting forward their own cultural values and seeing that their communities needs are served in primacy to all others.

            Your We and Us and Them narratives are all just labels invented to drive a wedge between those who struggle against the very same injustice.

            That is the same sort of glibly spoken words that sophists use to deny biological sex. The fact is You, We and They do exist, and they exist on the basis of different values, and the various solutions those values arrive at in terms of dealing with both the economic problem and injustice…. one cultures right is another cultures injustice. Nobel words do nothing to address that core reality from which all conflict or dysfunction spring.

            Nobel words spoken with high ideals are easy, they cost nothing – making a united, function society that can coherently meet the needs of its participants is not, it is expensive and has been paid for in countless lives and bloodshed.

            Over 200,000 years of evidence suggests that the notions of Utopia lies with those who ignore the past and pretend differences don’t mater, and it always without exception leads to failure – if it did not, then the world would be filled with Multicultural societies that never fell.

          • drsmithyMEMBER

            Over 200,000 years of evidence suggests that the notions of Utopia lies with those who ignore the past and pretend differences don’t mater, and it always without exception leads to failure – if it did not, then the world would be filled with Multicultural societies that never fell.

            But the world is similarly not filled with monocultural societies that never fell. Then again, your definition of “culture” is so rubbery, that pretty much anything could be “multicultural” or “monocultural”, depending on what was convenient.

            You cannot have a united future, when everyone is working towards projecting forward their own cultural values and seeing that their communities needs are served in primacy to all others.

            Wow. There’s some weapons-grade irony.

          • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

            Of course there have been plenty of monotheist cultures to fall – they end up populated by soft, flabby nacy boys like yourself.

            There is no irony in wanting to see the community, values and culture that was passed to me be perpetuated – a barbarian like yourself simply wouldn’t understand. You have no identity other than a consumer, there is about as much identity and meaning to you in your Australian passport as a Woolworths shopping docket.

            But to be honest, perpetuating ones own culture, in the society my parents built for me is less of a concern than the dysfunction, hatred, animosity and divisiveness that identity politics like yours has wrought. Divide and conqueror is what diversity is all about, it has been used as a means to disempower and rob societies for millennia yet dumb fcuks like you cheer it on.

  4. Jumping jack flash

    “Where an employer can’t fill a vacancy locally, nationally set conditions like the TSMIT can make it unappealing to fill the vacancy with a migrant instead.”

    Have these guys ever heard of training? Or has that concept disappeared due to the migrant flood?

    No wonder young people cant get jobs.
    I wonder how the training companies are going these days?

  5. Just as the path to London is well worn for anyone who has the temerity to further themselves skills or financially wise, so it is from Regional to the city. A considerable amount of our young leave the bush to have a go & also because the pay is shite. Now they’re proposing to cuck what’s left of the kids to help a few greedy hands who already have a cheaper cost base to run things from? Aside from transport, they already have it both ways.

    When I came back to the bush some years ago I knew it was financial & career suicide – Nothing has happened since to change my mind on that.

    • Life in the bush is dead
      The trees are dead, the soil is dead
      our social experiment to populate the bush died long ago
      all that truly prospers are the get rich quick schemes of city folk
      some want to “organize” our water resources to achieve the greatest value.
      some want to poison our most fertile soil to support the gas needs of their factories
      some want to get rich by selling the bush to other city folk
      some want to get rich by “developing” the bush
      One thing is certain all the best get rich quick schemes involve a fellow named Grant
      Grant is an amazing guy, he builds community centers, he builds surf life saving club houses, he builds roads and bridges. I have no idea where the bush would be without people like Grant , but alas like most Aussies Grant lives in the city as do most of the people who profit from Grants.
      Still it is good to have chaps like Grant around, where would the bush be without grants.

  6. Tassie TomMEMBER

    If “regional” prospective employees can’t attract workers, how about these for some ideas?

    1) Improve your pay
    2) Improve your conditions (these are known as the “labour market”)
    3) Automate or computerise so that you don’t need the worker (this is known as “productivity”).
    4) If you refuse #1, #2, or #3, then stiff s**t, you don’t get your worker. The labour resources can be diverted to a more productive use instead.

  7. CanuckDownUnder

    I caught the tail end of a news program on SBS discussing how COVID was impacting global food chains. The bit about Austrialia was some [email protected]@mer moaning about how she wouldn’t be able to find backpackers to pick fruit this year, the ones who she pays $70/day. Seriously GFY.

  8. There needs to be a mechanism to direct urban Australian youth to rural seasonal jobs. One such mechanism could be re-arranging timing of univeristy terms to match holidays with “picking” seasons, and tying HECS forgiveness or Austudy payments to such service.

    • A colleague who grew up in Orange once told me that the students used to line up for those picking jobs, because the wages could be used to supplement their Austudy allowances and pay for textbooks and extras. The enthusiasm dried up when the bean counters used those meagre wages as an excuse to cut allowances, making the work no longer worthwhile.