Morrison declares ultimate immigration war on workers

As we know, the Morrison Government has been planning for months to open the immigration floodgates at the earliest opportunity in order to alleviate purported ‘labour shortages’, put downward pressure on wages, and juice the profits of its mates in the property and business lobbies.

The Government’s Interim Report of the Inquiry into Australia’s Skilled Migration Program recommended opening the migrant floodgates 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.

Since that report was released in March, the Morrison Government has:

  • Uncapped the number of hours international students can work while studying in Australia;
  • Given farmers a dedicated agricultural visa so that they can more easily hire foreign workers from South East Asian Nations; and
  • Given easier access to UK working holidaymakers under the newly signed free trade agreement.

Yesterday, the Morrison Government betrayed Australian workers further by adding an extra 22 occupations to the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (SOL), namely:

  • Accountant (General) (221111)
  • Accountant (Taxation) (221113)
  • Accountant (Management) (221112)
  • External Auditor (221213)
  • Internal Auditor (221214)
  • Electrical Engineer (233311)
  • Civil Engineer (233211)
  • Structural Engineer (233214)
  • Geotechnical Engineer (233212)
  • Transport Engineer (233215)
  • Mining Engineer (233611)
  • Petroleum Engineer (233612)
  • Surveyor (232212)
  • Cartographer (232213)
  • Other Spatial Scientist (232214)
  • Medical Laboratory Scientist (234611)
  • Orthotist / Prosthetist (251912)
  • Multimedia Specialist (261211)
  • Analyst Programmer (261311)
  • Software and Applications Programmers (261399)
  • ICT Security Specialist (262112)
  • Chef (351311)

Occupations on the list, which now totals 41, are given priority processing for migration and travel exemptions.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said the changes had been developed with the help of feedback from “Australian business stakeholders”, who obviously wish to pay lower wages and have more consumers to sell to.

As noted by the Grattan Institute in its recent skilled migration report (and argued ad nauseum on this site), the government’s SOL are based on political lobbying and bear little reality to actual skills shortages across the economy:

The long-standing tradition of using occupation lists to select skilled workers for permanent residency should be abandoned.

Current occupation lists, which notionally target skills shortages, do not prioritise migrants in high-skill, high-wage occupations likely to best benefit the Australian community.202 Further, occupation lists are not well placed to identify skills shortages, since relevant data on wages are not available at a sufficiently detailed level. Instead, occupation lists are heavily shaped by vested interests…

Grattan used the example of accountants to highlight the SOL farce:

The most prominent contemporary example is accounting. In SkillSelect, there are tens of thousands of prospective skilled workers qualified in accountancy. As Figure 7.11 shows, the number of expressions of interest for a points-tested visa submitted by qualified accountants is equivalent to roughly one fourth of the total number of accountants employed in Australia today. People appear to be studying accountancy because it is on the list.

Accountant visas

Yet, accountants have been added to the Priority Migration (SOL), alongside a bunch of other occupations not actually experiencing genuine shortages.

The end result from the series of migration changes announced by the Morrison Government will be to flood the Australian labour market with additional foreign workers, neutering worker bargaining power and wages – exactly what the business lobby and Morrison Government wants.

The bigger question in all this is: where’s Labor? Why won’t it stand up for Australian workers? Does it want to govern or not?

Unconventional Economist
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  1. ChristopherMEMBER

    I run a reasonably large finance department, when we advertise we have no shortage of applicants – we have a massive shortage of suitable applicants.

    Unfortunately, the open flood gates approach is only going to lead to more unsuitable applicants – whom can generally only work in non client facing roles back of house.

    • C'est de la folieMEMBER

      My wife is a migrant with a Masters Degree and a decade sorting out taxation and project issues for what was then the seventh largest oil producer in the world – before taking a decade off to have kids (and migrate). Her experience applying for accounting gigs is such that she is doing a Cert IV in book keeping to get some base grade data entry work (which i keep noting should go the way of the dodo soon)

    • Hernando Dobski

      We run a large IT development firm. There is NO SHORTAGE of good skilled workers in any of those “programmer” categories.

      But hey, more will just bring the price down. Good for us. Not so much for the workers, worse for young Aussies who have HECS debt they need to pay off, which immigrants don’t.

    • kierans777MEMBER

      I have the same problem hiring competent developers. My former corporate HR department and I used to butt heads because they’d “vet” all these candidates as “great” but they’d then fail the most basic coding challenges I give applicants. They also didn’t like me telling them that they were offering peanuts, where as the great devs had their picking of job opportunities.

    • Strange EconomicsMEMBER

      Most of these occupations already have many graduates who cannot get the jobs, when compared to a foreign worker who will accept a less than graduate salary, and has 10 years experience. Of course they get the bonus of a PR for the family, so who needs a high salary.
      I mean Accountants, Electrical Engineers – there are heaps of graduates. Chef? You mean shortage of Chefs willing to work for below the minimum wage.
      Tax Accountants? How would a new arrival understand negative gearing and all the other rorts?

      Bad for the boomers Uni Kids, they’ll have to hope their parents kick in some of the property profits.

      And the catch in the Free Trade UK agreement, is unlimited UK workers. Most of the UK would move here tomorrow , just for the weather.

      • Jumping jack flash

        “Tax Accountants? How would a new arrival understand negative gearing and all the other rorts?”

        Feeds the spin-off industries that bestow qualifications onto new imports to make them eligible for working in Australia.

        I knew quite a few South African electricians who had to pay a fortune (well, somebody did) getting accredited for working in Australia. Itd be the same for accountants.

        I knew an Egyptian guy in Sydney who brought his wife over who was an accountant and she had to do that. Top bloke and totally switched on.

  2. I’m ok with civil and structural engineers. In NNSW, it’s very hard to even get a fee proposal for minor works – it’s utterly ridiculous.

    I emailed and follow up phoned about 10 places for some carport plans – this is simple, bread and butter, couple-of-hours stuff. Simply no response. Too busy, means we need more supply.

    In broader terms… will Labor parlay this into their own policy?

    I can see Albo now
    “Mr Speaker, this, Mr Speaker, this, Mr Speaker, is, Mr Speaker, an utter outrage, an utter outrage, Mr Speaker. Here, Mr Speaker, we have, we have, Mr Speaker, Mr Speaker, a Liberal National Coalition, Mr Speaker, who, Mr Speaker, are betraying, betraying, Mr Speaker, the wokers [sic] of Australia, Mr Speaker, the wokers, Mr Speaker. Why, Mr Speaker, hasn’t the Liberal National Coalition, Mr Speaker, not considered all the other workers, the other workers, Mr Speaker, stranded overseas, Mr Speaker. The cleaner, the hairdresser, Mr Speaker, unable to come here with, Mr Speaker, their engineer countrypeople, Mr Speaker, to, Mr Speaker, seek a better life, a better life, Mr Speaker. The citizens, Mr Speaker, of Australia – of Australia, deserve, Mr Speaker, they deserve, Mr Speaker, to welcome, Mr Speaker, these people here to work, Mr Speaker. The Laborist Party of Australia, Mr Speaker [voice rising in faux indignation], would INCREASE THE NUMBER, Mr Speakers, of these categories – Mr Speaker – so ALLLLLLLLLL the workers from abroad, Mr Speaker, can come here, Mr Speaker, to be wokers, in, Mr Speaker, this Mr Speaker, Mr Speaker, this, Mr Speaker, Great Country, Mr Speaker.

    Now, Mr Speaker, where was I – was I, again, Mr Speaker?

  3. The consulting roles of the Big 4 have certainly paid dividends in more ways than one. I wonder how much has been channelled to the LNP via the back door.

  4. The BystanderMEMBER

    >The bigger question in all this is: where’s Labor? Why won’t it stand up for Australian workers? Does it want to govern or not?

    They’re focusing on the real issue of the lack of ethnic diversity in boardrooms – less important issues like working class wages and exploitation can wait, tough titties. I mean, isn’t it obvious that a Filipino cleaner cares more about seeing Directors who look like her in an ASX 200-listed company than getting a fair wage so she can support her family?

  5. Accountant – 7/11 worker
    Auditor – checking all 7/11’s have balanced their tills
    Electrical Engineer – scooter repairs
    Civil Engineer – building scooter lanes on footpaths
    Geotechnical Engineer – Real estate agent
    Structural Engineer – dividing living room into 3 bedrooms
    Transport Engineer – über driver
    Mining Engineer – cleaner who dabbles in bitcoin
    Petroleum Engineer – 7/11
    Surveyor – plans uber route
    Cartographer – makes maps for above uber route surveyor
    Other Spatial Scientist – security guard
    Medical Laboratory Scientist – cleaner
    Multimedia Specialist – YouTuber
    ICT Security Specialist – security guard
    Chef – at Subway

    • TailorTrashMEMBER

      Petroleum engineers in a country that doesn’t or can’t refine its own fuel ?

      • Personal Risk ToleranceMEMBER

        Petroleum engineers don’t actually work in refining; they work upstream in extraction and reservoir characterisation.

        A bit like how we extract huge volumes of iron ore despite only having two small steel mills.

  6. What special knowledge can foreign tax accountants add to firms operating under the Australian tax system?

    • Jesus wept, you should be at the dispatch box on oppo benches.

      Always cutting straight to it.

    • Apparently preference from employers (from rants with family in recruitment sector) for a lot of these occupations are those Brit, South African and, especially, NZ. Similar academic and professional institutional background. Euro and US emigrants don’t figure much at all so other than these three it is, as Christopher points outs, a very high rate of wastage.

    • Strange EconomicsMEMBER

      They could advise the government on some more new tax dodge ideas for property investors to import from overseas.

    • Agree from a compliance (number crunching perspective re tax effect accounting for income tax for large corporates). Not so sure re advisory re reading down the legislation and case law.
      Done heaps tax effect accounting and tax returns (ITR) for Aus and NZ corporates, pretty much the same permanent (non temporary) and timing (temporary) differences are fairly close. TEA and ITRs are really just mathematical models if you think about it from an algebra perspective. That is how I see Australian income tax legislation.
      I once did TEA for a US multinational operating a foreign subsidiary in australia. As part of the work had to do between 20 -30 TEA models for 20 -30 countries in Asia including India if I remember correctly. What I found amazing was how similar all countries were re permanent and timing differences. That means the ITRs would have to be similar also in a numerical sense in getting to taxable income, it is just the different boxes and forms you would need to fill in that would be different i would expect. For instance NZ ITR for a company is so straight forward it is incredible, whereas Australian ITR is so incredibly complicated and asks for so much that you wonder what on earth they need info for
      In terms of FBT and GST cannot comment re other countries, but I know GST from compliance perspective in Aus is simple (legislation is a nightmare). whereas FBT is so granular compliance is a nightmare but legislation straight forward. Not sure how this would be in other countries
      I can never understand why on earth we do corporate income tax in Aus given we have an imputation credit system that gives credits against tax paid by companies ion taxable income. Just so much easieer to not tax the company and instead tax the individual when he recives cash dividend.

  7. Labor can do nothing. The majority of older Australians believe younger Australians are too lazy to work, hence applaud any move to increase immigration – they are having a “go” after all.

  8. There is going to be a lot of suicides coming in Australia.

    You can already see the devastation coming.

    I mean, the Boomers have left the young for dead… and they expect sympathy in return.


      Some entitled old bustard dropped in on me whilst I was on a screamer the other day (just after he’d kooked the takeoff on the wave in front). I yelled for him to GTFoff but to no avail. Pulled into a nice bottom turn and lined him up and whapow!, board in the back of the knees, hard. Senile blood bruising fo’sho. Treat grumpy old folks differently and they’ll think they can get away with anything.


    Surely we need more real estate agents for the never ending mega-boom times ahead.

  10. Cartographer? – of the 12 cartographers i worked with 20 years ago, 0 (zero) are still in the industry (including myself) because, the skill isnt really needed that much anymore with technology improvements and offshoring of the simpler bits.
    Neither TAFE nor Curtin University (Perth) run the Cartography course anymore because…well, there arent any jobs in that field. (now included as part of the surveying courses)

    I would love to go back to that work, if there was any, so im puzzled why its on the list. Maybe all the boomer cartographers left behind who were hanging on until retirement have all retired?. Im a tax accountant now, and there is definitely no shortage there of tax accountants.

    I imagine that the shortage is BS for all the other listed occupations too. Or a shortage of workers willing to work for slave rates.

    • I have a cousin who is a cartographer who went overseas because there was no work in Australia. He will be thrilled to know that he can move back home since there’s a shortage of them now!
      It’s also good to know there’s now a shortage of software engineers in Australia as well so maybe I can move back without having to take a +50% pay cut. If they could declare a shortage of patent lawyers and allow USA-qualified lawyers to practice then my wife would be happy to move as well.

    • strange economicsMEMBER

      Shortage of overqualified Uber drivers since the gates closed.
      Should just list them , and forget all those furphy occupations above.

  11. You mean the Labor that’s welded to NeoLiberalism? The one’s that ushered it in on their watch showing their differentiation & “Our” choice?
    Why would Rand’s Psychopathy modify, when there’s a continuous global supply of naïve renewable cannon fodder to keep milking? Labor’s doing just fine hiding in the Shadows of being an “alternative”.

  12. Lord DudleyMEMBER

    Basically, if you’re young, and get educated to provide goods or services that are needed for productive enterprise, prepare to be shafted by a huge flood of immigrants with paper-qualifications that match yours. Then have fun being poor!

    Real Australians get connected-jobs via their mates that only connected Australians are allowed to do, or work in high-demand jobs in the mines.

    As for the rest of you, you’re doomed. You will be sold out, because you provide nothing of value that can’t be imported cheap.

    • Jumping jack flash

      Well, theres always services. Generally those aren’t imported. Well as long as you’re not getting a massage or your nails done.

      My missus pays close to $250 for a haircut these days.
      Trades can make out like bandits.

      Actually making stuff is no longer needed of course, we have a China and debt now instead. Its much cheaper and more satisfying to get someone else to make the stuff. Its a dirty business amd terribly damaging for the environment.

      Its much quicker to get rich from debt and it has a much smaller carbon footprint than say, working at a foundry.

      The gods of finance have spoken.

  13. Jumping jack flash

    “…who obviously wish to pay lower wages and have more consumers to sell to.”

    And thus paving the way for the slow melt. If these skilled migrants are paid poorly then who will actually buy the businesses’ goods and services?

    2017 through to 2019 proved beyond a doubt that the lucky few beneficiaries of wage theft can’t prop up the debt economy on their own. They need the workers to come on board and spend and take on debt.
    And to do that, they need to pay them decent wages, and to do that they need to raise prices…

    and for THAT to happen Scotty and Joshy-boy the imbeciles, the chief clowns of the parliamentary circus, needed to not make a meal of the stimulus and do it properly.

    Now without a doubt we will be screwed with regards to wages, and all the while the colossal wall of debt magicked into existence from the 8 trillion US stimulus dollars (done right!) Screams around the world inflating everything except for our wages of course.

    Well done, Scotty, well done.

  14. I'll have anotherMEMBER

    Australia is down to about 4 universities which can provide a Surveying degree and 1 which does spatial science.

    You can no longer do a degree in Cartography in Australia. Since the invention of CAD and GIS packages, this role is defunct. What was formally a cartographer is now a GIS Officer / Spatial Scientist.

    The full 4 year degree required to gain this qualification graduates around 8 to 15 students a year as Graduate Surveyors.

    There is no skill shortage in Surveying technicians, only Registered Land Surveyors, which in QLD also need a cadastral endorsement.

    There is no qualification required to be a surveying technician, and only a TAFE diploma required to be an associate. There is absolutely no skill shortages in these areas what so ever.

    To practice as a Cadastral / Registered Surveyor requires intimate knowledge of state land and planning laws, as well as the Surveyors Act applicable to the state in question. This knowledge is gained via specialist university education for the state in question. It is then assessed when going for registration via state surveying boards. Most surveyors take about 6 to 7 years on average to complete the entire process from start to finish. Hence the shortage.

    This shortage cannot be filled by overseas surveying technicians. In fact the flooding of the small market with overseas surveyors is probably the main problem with the industry as it currently exists. It is making the engineering side of the profession a dog’s breakfast filled with unqualified cowboys and has reduced to perception of the profession to less than a trade. Site surveyors on large engineering projects are mostly perceived as glorified labourers. It’s cut throat in its competitiveness as it is.

    It looked like we were finally about to make some headway with the border closure but seems we will continue a race to the bottom.

    The largest firm, Veris, listed on ASX, hasn’t posted a profit in 5 years or so. Their cash flows are massive but they undercut everyone else at a loss to themselves and try to minimise the loss with armies of immigrant Surveyors which are inadequately trained and equipped.

    Very dissapointing news which can only benifit the multibillion dollar clients of Surveyors at the disadvantage of Australian trained Surveyors and completely removed the carrot to train our own professionals. Fancy a country that can’t make its own Surveyors, it quite literally doesn’t know it’s a*”:ole from its elbow!