Morrison to green-light dedicated farm slavery visa

In March the federal government released a 327-page report from the National Agricultural Labour Advisory Committee, which explicitly admitted that the agricultural industry’s overreliance on cheap migrant labour is bad for productivity and unsustainable:

Australia’s main competitors in agriculture are either ahead or running very close. In many ways, Australia is at a crossroads. Either its enterprises go all out to modernise by learning and adopting new methods, or they fall behind the others, occupying increasingly uncomfortable niches, relying on inadequately trained, low productivity workers, using the same old approaches that worked yesterday, and then finding themselves in a situation where business as usual has suddenly turned into business in decline…

The report explicitly noted that the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) scheme, which enables farms to employ backpackers, is regularly abused and rife with exploitation, and recommended strengthening regulations and standards up to the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) scheme. It also called for better regulation of labour hire companies.

Most importantly, the report rejected the industry’s call for a dedicated agricultural visa:

Most of the arguments put forward to justify an agriculture-specific visa can be addressed through improvements and adjustments to existing visa programs so as to address the segmentation issues identified in Section 7.1. Significant effort has already been made to design and tailor these programs, and building on this work will deliver quicker and better results than starting afresh…

A holistic approach should be taken to streamline and make consistent the settings of current temporary migrant visas, whether under the Seasonal Worker Programme, the Pacific Labour Scheme or the Working Holiday Maker program.

With this background in mind, it was disturbing to read yesterday that the Morrison Government is about to give farmers a dedicated agricultural visa so that they can more easily hire foreign workers:

The deputy leader of the National Party says it has reached a deal with Prime Minister Scott Morrison that would see more foreigners come to Australia to work on farms.

David Littleproud confirmed an agreement has been reached and hinted that an agriculture-specific visa could soon be announced…

Mr Littleproud says his party had done a deal that would increase the number of workers available on farms.

“The National Party has already got an agreement from the Prime Minister to… build on the capacity of seasonal workers that are required”…

Responding to Mr Littleproud’s comments, president of the Victorian Farmers Federation Emma Germano said an agriculture-specific visa was overdue and nothing less could satisfy growers…

“An extension to the Pacific Labor Scheme or Seasonal Worker Programme is not an agriculture visa and does not meet agriculture’s needs”.

The new visa is expected to be announced shortly and will enable farmers to recruit farm workers from 10 South-East Asian nations: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam:

The visa scheme, the details of which are yet to be finalised, is planned to be in operation by September, when harvesting begins, and would be additional to the Pacific Island labour scheme which has a pool of 25,000 workers willing to undertake seasonal work in Australia.

Easier access will also be granted to UK working holiday makers under the newly signed free trade agreement.

Therefore, instead of weaning the horticultural industry off migrant slave labour, the Morrison Government is instead going to double down. This despite the conga-line of evidence showing that temporary migrants have been ruthlessly exploited on Australia’s farms, which has frequently been labelled “modern slavery”.

For years, MB has challenged farmers’ over-reliance on cheap, exploitable migrant workers, arguing that it contributes to lower wage growth, as well as stifles Australia’s long-run productivity by discouraging farms from adopting labour-saving technologies and automation.

Put another way, without such easy access to low-paid migrants, farms would be forced to raise wages to attract local workers. These higher wages would, in turn, encourage farms to seek out labour-saving technologies and automation, thereby raising the economy’s productivity.

With Australia’s border closed and the foreign worker tap shut off, we have already witnessed multiple examples of Australian farms undertaking productivity-enhancing investments in labour saving technologies, thus proving our case.

Obviously, the Morrison Government’s decision to give farmers easier access to cheap, exploitable migrants will undermine future investment by keeping wages artificially low, reducing incentives to automate.

The outcome will be the polar opposite of the recommendations from the National Agricultural Labour Advisory Committee above, which wants to see farmers “go all out to modernise by learning and adopting new methods”. Instead, the expansion of “inadequately trained, low productivity workers” will dilute the capital base and cause farm productivity to stagnate.

The whole exploitative visa system needs to be overhauled, not expanded by the slave driving Morrison Government.

Unconventional Economist
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Comments

    • Exploited PomsMEMBER

      Wait till the unlucky British backpackers under the Boris Johnson trade deal discover the new rate is that they have to work for $ 2 an hour for 6 months for a 2 year visa extension (then on to PR) instead of the previous exploited rate of $ 10, or $ 20 an hour in England , as 2$/hour is the rate for some of these Asian countries. Low wage exploited labour for farmers and cheaper fruit for the pollies.
      And so much for the Pacific labour scheme, which was meant to help the island countries.

      • They will be gifted a three year visa with no requirement to work on farms anymore. Given their population is three times the sizes of ours, expect 3 times as many Brits coming here as Aussies going there. Just what we need when we already have a rental crisis, 1.2million unemployed, and no limit on int’l student graduate visas.

  1. So government not even taken their own advice, just following the demands from the Nats as they try to win back farmers after selling them out to big gas etc. This is how banana republics emerge.

    Also we are trying to build influence in SE Asia till counter China, how do you think that’ll work out when their papers have headlines of how their nationals are ripped off here, they’ll say we are no better than dodgy Chinese companies.

  2. As with all things LNP, here is how this will pan out:

    1. Determine the stupidest, most corrupt course of action that has the worst effects on the people of the country while maximising the profits of the LNPs Mates.

    2. Implement that course of action.

    3. Observe Mates profit while everybody else suffers and becomes poorer.

      • Lord DudleyMEMBER

        Everybody knows a Shorten Government would have stolen everyone’s FrankenCredits, crashed all the equity in the bank of Mum n Dad, and made being a dole bludger the most lucrative career in Australia.

        This is why the commie Labor government will never be elected again… it’s because everybody “knows” these things.

  3. Lord DudleyMEMBER

    This will be good for profits of landholders. The real Australians! People who own land should also be exempt from all taxation.

  4. Article : “The new visa is expected to be announced shortly and will enable farmers to recruit farm workers from 10 South-East Asian nations: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam”

    3 year visas & pathway to PR, Centrelink & Medicare plus as a sponsor of chain migration. Able to bring partners & dependents.

    🔹Now all of you will imagine this will be an Australian countryside full of a South Asian peasantry underclass, quietly toiling away in the fields & orchards, or the packing sheds as an imported migrant slave worker army.

    Paid Australian minimum wages and under Australian regulated work conditions..
    (Or else Woolworths, Coles & Aldi would all face modern slavery compliance breeches in their supply chain..)

    👉🏾Nope.

    First of all, the farmers never needed this labor.

    The large mega farms which produce over 90% of Australia’s domestic and export agricultural output are highly automated and industrialised. In fact they employ a small and reducing number of very highly skilled workers who operating large scale industrial agricultural scale plant & machinery.

    It is the small farms, the ones that are marginal or lack the capacity to invest in automation or industrial scale farm infrastructure who are demanding these migrant guestworkers.

    And it’s not for their labour.

    It’s for all the $$ cash 💰flow that comes from the trafficking of these migrants in.

    The farmers, the foreign criminal traffickers & their local ethnically aligned labor ring organisers all collude to make 💰mega bucks in the whole process of offshore recruitment, visa bribes, foreign agent doctor bribes, trafficking in ‘re-sleeved’ petty criminals with falsified identities & documents, and to supply the Australian cities with an intake of migrants for blackmarket work or vice work.

    Then there is the💰cash flow shared between the agent procurers, labour ring organisers and the ‘farmers’ in providing the ‘accommodation’, ‘transport to & from slum hovels to the ‘farm work’, for food & services’ as well as the falsification of documents or ‘services’ in visa extension & visa churn.

    These smaller marginal or hobby farms will often set aside a couple of paddocks and maybe an old barn as a slum hovel or else co-op to buy a humpy squat for the migrants near the town – and that is their 💰money shot.

    just like the backpacker racket – only a minority of backpackers on paper actually registered their ‘88 days on a farm for the visa extension’ & far less actually did it.

    Only the really dumb or poor migrants who couldn’t afford to pay the agent procurer/ farmer bribe of $8k to ‘say they had’.

    The reality is that this ‘farm work’ consists of smaller & marginal farms or orchard owners who typically set aside a marginal block or some paddocks & then those naive backpackers or who couldn’t afford the $8k fee to ‘get the farmer to sign off the farm work’ are systematically ripped off & milked by the foreign traffickers & farmers.

    Hard work – but ‘pretend make work’ really in marginal low value agricultural output.

    Dig it up, sow it, crop it, dig it up or pick it as pretence make work.

    Meanwhile the bulk of the migrant labor is actually working in the cities illegally with the farmer timesheets & signoff to say they are on the farm.

    -/-

    It will be far more of a scam given the immorality and sophistication of the south East Asian labor ring organizers.

    Most of these South East Asians will be thousands of kilometres away in Sydney or Melbourne, working in the 711 or the foreign run brothel.

    Like I said, the farmers aren’t desperate for migrant labour. Nor is the Australian economy. It’s marginal.
    It’s these small shonky corrupt farmers who are desperate for the 💰cash flow they got used to in the backpacker working holiday rorts.

    The shared 💰cash back payoffs from the agent procurers recruiting offshore in creating visa demand.

    The 💰cash back payoffs from the local foreign criminal run labour ring ‘organisers’.

    The 💰cash in hand charges fees & deductions from the migrants doing pretend make work in ‘accommodation, transport, food & labour ring facilitation’ charges.

    That’s what it’s all about.

    And it should be exposed in what it really is.
    A migrant trafficking racket.

    And to correct some myths.

    🔻The migrants themselves are not exploited.
    They know the score exactly.

    They are more than willing collaborators.

    That’s why they pay huge bribes to the agent procurers, labour ring organisers and the farmers to just get into Australia on whatever visa they can.
    To then breach that visa to live & work illegally.

    🔻The intake will not be seasoned hard working Asian agricultural workers.
    They will all have documents to say that, but in reality they will be itinerant rural lowlife, Asian urban slum dwellers, petty criminals, vice workers.
    All replete with falsified offshore agent doctor health checks, riddled with Hep, TB & other diseases, with false identities.
    And in heavy foreign agent procurer loan debt.
    Working to repay the bribes & that loan debt & to send back remittances.

    They will be a timebomb in future social & economic cost.
    Promised a pathway to a PR.
    To be an sponsor and anchor for chain migration of more unskilled useless like them doing marginal make work.
    Sucking up the Medicare & Centrelink. (Unskilled, non assimilated, no English, low income ‘gig’ or labour ring itinerant employment, little or no tax paid).

    👉🏾This is importing a literal timebomb in social and economic cost impact.

    And that’s the migrant intake filter.

    Now add to that the parasitic layer of agent procurers, foreign criminal run labour syndicates and farmers (like the education industry in providing the visa alibi) all colluding to make 💰money out of this.

    It’s bad.

    All Australians should protesting this.

    • working class hamMEMBER

      Scary future for this country. The tickets get clipped and LNP win another election on the back of house prices.