The Australia Institute’s Richard Denniss and Matt Grudnoff have demolished the notion that Australia is experiencing chronic skills shortages, given there are nearly two million Australians unemployed or underemployed (video below).
They argue that if businesses want to attract workers there is a simple solution: 1) pay workers enough to make their unattractive jobs more enticing to workers; or train workers themselves with the necessary skills.
It’s an excellent video that explains in simple language why the skills shortage argument used by Australian businesses and the federal government is complete bunkum.
Curiously, however, Denniss and Grudnoff make zero mention of the Morrison Government’s plan to open the floodgates to cheap foreign workers, which would obviously weaken workers’ bargaining power, wages and conditions. In fact, they make no mention of immigration at all.
This is odd because Richard Denniss has highlighted the issue previously. For example here:
The incessant calls for an increase in skilled migration have drowned out genuine debate about the causes of any so-called ‘skills shortages’ and the range of policy options available to address them…
But rather than have a genuine debate about whether industry or government could be doing more to invest in the training of our young we are simply told there is no alternative but to import those skills from overseas…
Australia is a country of immigrants… But support for openness to immigration should not come at the price of having to remain silent about the size of our population.
Unlike the demands for more immigration from big business, Australian governments, state and federal, have found it easy to resist the demands for more hospitals, more nursing homes and more public transport…
Big business loves rapid population growth for the simple reason that they profit from having more potential customers. Governments seem to love rapid population growth because they benefit from having more taxpayers. But neither big business nor government wants to invest in the essential infrastructure that all those extra customers and taxpayers require. While the ‘benefits’ of a big population accrue in the form of profits and budget surpluses, the costs are borne by those stuck waiting in traffic, waiting for a hospital bed or waiting for a seat on the train.
The purpose of 457 visas is to suppress wage growth by allowing employers to recruit from a global pool of labour to compete with Australian workers. When demand for workers rises, employers need to bid against each other for the available scarce talent. It is only in recent years that the wage rises that accompany the normal functioning of the labour market have been rebranded as a “skills shortage”.
With lobby groups left and right demanding a return to pre-COVID levels immigration, and the Morrison Government planning to make it far easier for businesses to hire foreign workers via:
- Abolishing labour market testing requirements.
- Lowering costs and speeding up approval times for importing foreign workers.
- Expanding the skilled occupation list to include almost any role.
- Providing all ‘skilled’ visa holders with a clear pathway for transition to permanent residency.
- Granting ‘skilled’ visa holders priority access to flights and hotel quarantine ahead of stranded Australians.
Why is The Australia Institute remaining silent?
The battle is taking place here and now. So why won’t The Australia Institute speak up against the Morrison Government’s planned wage crushing immigration reboot?
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