Liberals endorse migrant farm slavery

A Liberal-chaired parliamentary committee has renewed calls for a dedicated agriculture visa, claiming that easier access to migrant workers is needed to alleviate purported chronic skills shortages:

The lower house’s standing agriculture committee on Monday released its findings from an inquiry into growing the sector to a $100 billion industry by 2030.

WA Liberal MP Rick Wilson chaired the committee, which backed longstanding industry calls to introduce a special visa type…

“A dedicated agriculture visa should allow for migrants to work in low-skilled positions and apply to stay for at least a year or to regularly return to Australia on a seasonal basis,” the report says.

“The visa conditions should not be tied to a specific employer, but rather to a specific industry, i.e. horticulture, or a specific region. The purpose for this condition would be to reduce worker exploitation”…

Senior Nationals have previously supported an agriculture visa but the idea failed to gain traction within cabinet.

There is abundant evidence of temporary migrants being ruthlessly exploited on Australia’s farms. Giving farms easier access to migrant slaves will merely exacerbate the exploitation. And that’s the whole point – cheap labour is the goal here.

We have been repeatedly fed the lie that there are insufficient Australians willing or able to do farm work, thus leading to calls to allow easier access to temporary foreign workers.

However, as The New Daily’s series of investigative reports have shown (here, here and here), thousands of Australians have been rejected for farm work because they must be paid legal wages and are less easy to exploit.

As we keep saying, allowing Australia’s farmers to pluck cheap migrant workers en masse is bad for both wages and long-run productivity.

Australia’s mining industry is world class and attracts workers to far out places by paying excellent wages.

Cut off the migrant slave labour pipeline and Australian farms will be forced to raise wages. In turn, this will drive farms to automate and lift productivity, boosting both profits and wages.

However, if the government allows farms to continue relying heavily on cheap foreign labour, then capital will shallow, productivity will stagnate, and both wages and profits will decline.

There’s a reason why farms in advanced nations are more likely to involve a handful of workers operating heavy machinery, whereas in low-wage developing countries farms are manned by many workers doing manual labour.

The higher cost of labour in advanced countries forces farms to invest in labour saving machinery, which lifts productivity.

If farm margins are so weak then they should be forced to consolidate, driving economies of scale, improved productivity, and higher profit margins.

The key ingredient for Australian agriculture to flourish is productivity-enhancing automation, not migrant slave labour.

One wonders how Australia survived (not starved) for so many generations before the industry was corrupted by greedy labour hire companies abusing temporary migrants with poor wages and working conditions?

The whole industry needs a clean-out, not pandering from the Coalition government.

Unconventional Economist
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Comments

  1. Jumping jack flash

    “Cut off the migrant slave labour pipeline and Australian farms will be forced to raise wages. In turn, this will drive farms to automate and lift productivity, boosting both profits and wages.”

    Right!

    But the next question is “how are consumers going to pay the increased prices for the items produced by the farms so they can pay their slaves fairly?”

    The answer to this question is of course our good friend and saviour, debt. Mountains of debt. A tidal wave of new debt washing through the economy, enabling prices to rise, and then wages.

    But it has to grow fast enough!!

    All eyes on the debt growth rate!
    We should know how we’re tracking by March/April 2021.

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      “But the next question is “how are consumers going to pay the increased prices for the items produced by the farms so they can pay their slaves fairly?”

      By spending less on over priced Branded fashion products, plastic shyte, $5 coffees and $9 schooners of beer would be a start.
      People could own Less expensive cars, toys etc not to mention
      less frequent holidays, Spotify Netflix and Stan subscriptions etc.
      If you demand exploitation and slavery to maintain your standard of living then your nothing but a cnt and completely beneath contempt.

      • Which should see the ACTU and ALP go for the jugular. The crickets we hear are the sound of the labour movement’s abandonment of this terrain. It seems that it will require a further generation that sees off the political zombies who still dream of China, Hawke and Keating. One of the big picture issues here is that the regions have suffered such a kick in the guts over the urban-centric Ponzi scheme that they don’t have communities viable enough to support a casual labour force. Decisions to base most universities in capitals and to provide zero opportunity in rural towns is part of the ‘Service Economy’ pathology where we all live in an economy where the capitals suck the life from the rest of the country – no longer do we live in ‘communities’.

        If the Nationals had any balls and other than heads stuffed with straw, they would be looking for a new coalition willing to operate in the community space sans slavery. One might dream that a real Labour party would be their natural ally in building communities with dignity and resilience. Apparently the ALP can’t bring itself to revisit that part of the roots of the racist White Australia Policy was to protect the wages of working people. Now that Sally Mc has wedged herself by her woke underpants this conversation is not even possible.