ALP and LNP unite in mass immigration worker destruction plan

The Morrison Government has signaled loud and clear that it will reboot mass immigration at the earliest opportunity.

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.

In announcing these recommendations Liberal MP Julian Leeser declared:

 “Right across the economy we are hearing that there are real issues in relation to businesses getting the skills that they need here in Australia. During the course of COVID, we’ve lost half a million temporary visa holders. Many of those people are skilled migrants. And they are skills that just don’t exist across Australia. We need to get them back to get Australian businesses moving again…”

In June, the Morrison Government also added an extra 22 occupations to the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL). Occupations on this list, which now total 41, will be given priority processing for migration and travel exemptions. In turn, they will be granted priority access to quarantine places.

And let’s not forget the Morrison Government has also introduced a new Agricultural Visa allowing farmers to more easily hire foreign slave labour.

Yesterday, a parliamentary migration committee recommended giving ‘skilled’ visa holders and international students easier access to work rights and permanent residency, in a plan designed by business groups and universities to ease labour shortages (read lower wages) and drive both student enrollments and economic growth. Both the Coalition and Labor back the reforms:

Liberal MP Julian Leeser, who chaired the six-month inquiry, said the committee’s proposal to give all temporary skilled visa holders a pathway to permanent residency was driven by businesses saying they were struggling to find workers to fill skill shortages.

The plan would effectively reverse changes made under former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2017 when his government narrowed the pathways to permanent residency by scrapping the 457 visa.

“It’s a very different time now. We’ve got an unemployment rate of 4.9 per cent”…

The committee suggested the government offer the “best and brightest” international students, who were willing to fill skill shortages, a two-year pathway to permanent residency under the employer nominated scheme, shaving one year off the process. It also recommended offering students longer temporary graduate visas of three years to give them time to find jobs.

The move was welcomed by Universities Australia chief executive, Catriona Jackson…

The report also called for workers who go to regional areas to have an easier path to residency, including easier English tests and looser experience requirements.

Labor committee member Julian Hill branded the recommendations a “remarkable and blatant repudiation” of Mr Dutton’s tenure as immigration minister… Mr Hill, speaking on behalf of the Labor committee members, said they agreed with most but not all of its recommendations…

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the nation’s largest employer lobby, welcomed the committee’s recommendation to increase pathways to permanent residency.

While we expect this type of policy malfeasance from the business-led Coalition, what the hell is the “Labor” Party thinking? They are supposed to represent Australian workers, but instead back the business lobby’s push to flood the nation with migrant workers, increasing unemployment, lowering wages, and pushing up housing costs.

Somebody should sue “Labor” and demand they change their name. They are the useful idiots of the wealthy elite that privatises the gains from mass immigration via cheaper labour costs and an expanded consumer base, while ordinary Australians bear the costs.

Unconventional Economist
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Comments

  1. C'est de la folieMEMBER

    The interesting thing to note is just how tepid the commentary is on these parliamentary committees. I think they all lnow the wind has changed and the public is onto the Population Ponzi. And nobody wants to be seen to be too close to it.

    Take 2 pieces which came out covering the committee findings, both backing away from the outcomes and either distancing from the thinking involved or being very half hearted in exhorting the outcomes – which is surprising when you think it is the Guardian and SBS

    Lets go to the nub of them, they were these

    Parliamentary committee calls for changes to make it easier for skilled migrants to stay in Australia from the Guardian, Lenore Taylor

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/aug/10/parliamentary-committee-calls-for-changes-to-make-it-easier-for-skilled-migrants-to-stay-in-australia

    and SBS coughed up

    Parliamentary report warns of ‘persistent skill shortages’ as half a million migrants leave Australia

    https://www.sbs.com.au/news/parliamentary-report-warns-of-persistent-skill-shortages-as-half-a-million-migrants-leave-australia

    Taylor was smart enough to go for a lede with the heavy government line in the findings, and go to the main take away from the report – easier for skilled migrants to stay – before noting ‘major skills shortages’ as the driving issue.

    Parliamentary committee calls for changes to make it easier for skilled migrants to stay in Australia

    Liberal-heavy committee says smoother permanent residency pathways needed as pandemic has created major skills shortages

    Tom Stayner over at SBS is also running a lede of ‘major’ shortages driving major changes to the skilled migration program

    The report is pushing for changes to Australia’s skilled migration program to overcome the challenge of major labour shortages caused by the pandemic.

    From here we start looking at coverage of the nub

    The Guardian followed with

    A Liberal-dominated parliamentary committee has recommended the Morrison government use the opportunity of the pandemic to overhaul the skilled migration program to give temporary workers and some international students clearer pathways to permanent residency in Australia.

    Parliament’s joint standing committee on migration recommends the government change the conditions for the short-term stream of the temporary skills shortage visa “to provide a pathway to permanent residency for temporary migrants”.

    It says all employer-nominated visas should provide the option of a path to permanency provided people had competent English language skills and were under the age of 45.

    That’s a pretty distanced piece of reportage – particularly for the Guardian on a subject it is usually strong on (immigration).  ‘Liberal dominated parliamentary committee’ has all the supporting chutzpah for an opening sentence of ‘anal scrapings from diseased rat’ for a recipe column.  Apart from that its all straight reportage.

    Tom, on the other hand, went straight to the departure lounge……..without wondering for a second if those departing skilled migrants departed because their jobs were ceasing to exist.

    Half a million migrants have left Australia since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the nation early last year, many of whom were skilled workers, according to a new parliamentary report.

    The Joint Standing Committee on Migration has delivered its final report laying out a series of recommendations on how to improve the skilled migration system.

    It warns a lack of skilled migrants and near-record-low unemployment has resulted in major labour shortages, in areas including engineering and agricultural technology.

    Tom too distanced himself from the findings, but coughs up the old bipartisan red herring of skills shortages – even touting engineering and agricultural technology, despite there being ample evidence that engineering jobs have been in decline apart from on government funded infrastructure projects, and the fact that fresh Australian engineers graduate each year scratching about for work.  That’s before wondering exactly how many engineering jobs there actually are in Australia.  Google suggests circa 30 thousand.  Even if we were talking about a shortage of a specific engineering type we aren’t talking thousands.  And agricultural technology? No doubt there are some very specific niches not quite covered by people in Australia, but for the bulk of our agriculture it is either inwardly focused or it is a pretty basic raw export – the wheat the beef the fruits veggies and seafoods.  That agricultural technology demand may not be big numbers either.

    Next up comes the real backing away….

    The final report of the committee, tabled in federal parliament on Monday, also recommended some international students be given a smoother path to permanent residency if they graduate from a university course that leads them to a job in an occupational area with persistent skills shortages. Criteria would include graduating in the top 10% of all graduates in their course, or achieving first class honours.

    So basically they are talking ‘top 10% of graduates’ in ‘occupational area with persistent skills shortages’ get easier migration path.  There may be a case for that, but it’s a big backdown from the perception that almost anyone graduating from an Australian course has some sort of right to stay here.  Of course that analysis of ‘persistent skills shortages’ would always be worth looking at too.  

    Tom stepped right away from easier access and skills shortages to run a grab on the numbers of people leaving this year.

    “Net overseas migration continues to be in negative territory with a further 77,000 people expected to leave Australia in the 2021-22 financial year,” Committee Chair and Liberal MP Julian Leeser wrote in the report. 

    And Lenore followed the path, with a bigger number going back to last year, and a freshly heated ‘major skills shortages’ as a side salad.

    The chair of the committee, the Liberal MP Julian Leeser, noted that more than 500,000 temporary migrants had left Australia since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic “and the lack of skilled migrants coupled with record low unemployment has led to major skill shortages in many sectors of the Australian economy”.

    From there though she followed up with some pretty vanilla comments about processes and the quite right need to ensure the immigration program is in Australia’s interest.

    The report recommends consolidating the current skills lists, replacing the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations system, providing more concessions for regional visas, improving the customer service function of the Department of Home Affairs, and relaxing some labour market testing requirements.

    In a foreword, Leeser said the current pause in the skilled migration program because of the international border closure had provided an opportunity “to have a less constrained examination of the skilled migration program than might ordinarily be possible”.

    He said the hiatus in people movement allowed policymakers to reflect on whether or not the skilled migration settings were serving Australia’s interests, and whether the country remained an attractive destination for skilled migrants.

    The current skills list should always be reflective of actual skills shortages.  There may be scope for wriggle room if the population Ponzi were to be choked federally, by allocating more visa places for regional interests to beckon their own – but there should be pretty tight testing and analysis around that if it is to be.  For sure ‘customer service’ in Home Affairs, and across the APS more broadly, could do with a thorough examination.  But for a Guardian piece on immigration it is all pretty subdued.

    Tom covered much the same ground but with some extra info on the visa types, a potential age caveat and the idea that all employer sponsored visas should have the permanent option.

    Mr Leeser said the “pause” in the skilled migration program because of international border closures had provided the chance to have a “less constrained” review of the migration program. 

    Among the report’s recommendations are calls for the government to make it easier for skilled migrants to get permanent residency.

    This includes calling for the Department of Home Affairs to change the visa conditions for the short-term stream of the temporary skills shortage visa (subclass 482).

    “All employer-nominated visas should provide the option of a pathway to permanency,” the report reads.

    But the report maintains that conditions for permanency should include competent English language ability and applicants being under the age of 45.

    Then back with Lenore it is an ominous reference to the Humanitarian visa program, and a load of ALP related comments trying to wedge Peter Dutton and the Liberals on the committee.  The comments on this committee seem about right, but the question remains about how many of those same questions and perceptions get much of an airing inside the ALP?

    The recommended overhaul of skilled migration comes as the Morrison government is also eyeing changes to the humanitarian program.

    Labor members of the committee used additional comments attached to the report to criticise the recommended relaxation of labour market testing, which would generate pushback from the trade union movement.

    Those Labor MPs said the recommendations were “a remarkable and blatant repudiation by government members of Peter Dutton’s tenure as minister for immigration, recommending a reversal of many of his changes” to the migration program.

    But they also characterised the report as a missed opportunity, because many of the recommendations were “reactive, piecemeal administrative tinkering, lacking significant policy reform”.

    “At its worst, people could well view this inquiry as a low-rent complaints shop run by the government, to make it easier for employers to bring in migrants yet doing nothing to boost Australian wages or our long-term national wealth,” the additional comments from Labor said.

    Tom runs through much the same subject matter, a nudge to Home affairs customer service, some Grattan Institute pushing of younger migrants – all important ahead of an election where grandparent visas seem to generate angst last time around – but there is more of the ’all students should have a right to stay’ tone, and some politicking from the ALP.

    A Grattan Institute report earlier this year said Australia should ‘unashamedly’ prioritise younger migrants for their long-term economic potential. 

    The parliamentary report has also called for the Department of Home Affairs to update their visa processing system to ensure a more streamlined application process for applicants and employers.

    Another recommendation notes this should include improving customer service through industry liaison officers and making officials available to discuss visa applications.

    It also pushes for measures to enable international students to come and stay in Australia to help fill persistent skills shortages. 

    This includes providing some international students with discounts to their work experience requirements for permanent residency reducing from three to two years.

    A Labor dissenting report described the inquiry’s findings as a “missed opportunity to rethink the skilled migration program to attract younger, highly skilled migrants and boost Australia’s long-term economic prospects and wealth”.

    “Australia has, right now, a once in a generation opportunity to reform our migration program.” 

    Lenore concluded with a Grattan ref giving a twist to the perception the government wants more ‘at whim’ in the immigration program, presumably ahead of calls by mainly Macrobusiness for a clear labour shortage analysis and examination, highlighting the utter bull of the skills shortage lists.

    Earlier this year, the Grattan Institute called for root and branch reform of the system. It criticised the government for shifting the composition of Australia’s permanent skilled migrant intake away from “skilled migrants best placed to succeed in Australia” towards unproven programs, including the “global talent” initiative.

    Tom closed out with the one true nugget in the reportage – this is the one chance to really look at immigration, who it is for, what are the costs and what should be the volumes at which it runs – and then a guesstimate of when business as usual will return.

    “Australia has, right now, a once in a generation opportunity to reform our migration program.” 

    This year’s May federal budget revealed the government’s expectation that temporary and permanent migration was only expected to gradually return from half-way through 2022. 

    All in all I found them both a fairly tepid look at the issue of skilled migration and fairly unenthusiastic pieces of straight reportage about what the Liberal heavy committee had coughed up. Particularly interesting neither attempted to get comment from industry, migrants reps or employer groups about the findings and worth noting that neither explored the skills shortage list or actual skills shortages in the labour market.

    • Dishonest Guardian and SBS use “plausible deniability”, just like the politicians that they report on.

      They know perfectly well what the confirmed LibLab policy is, coming out of COVID – highest ever levels of net migration, 235,000 a year. They never actually discuss this directly, because they support it to the hilt.

    • TailorTrashMEMBER

      Perhaps these “journalists “ are having difficulty
      Writing about what is staring them in the face
      Half the country is in mothballs and “ business “
      ……that loudest of identities in straya is still whinging about skills shortages .
      And ….it’s not as if we were building bullet trains , aircraft carriers or satellites
      …..more like shifting imported plastic sh1t in some crappy little warehouse for $10 per hour more like it

      • C'est de la folieMEMBER

        I did wonder if those agricultural technologists were inventing new hats for strawberry pickers for circa 6 bucks an hour

      • Strange EconomicsMEMBER

        Rename Labor to the Property Party and they’ll win in no time. Follow Albo, showing the way, into 100% property profit in 4 years. Oops he’s too busy this week, setting the sale, all that paperwork.

  2. Ya know I was thinking about climate change, and population, and footsore’s comment about being childless, and it seems to me that “responsible” individuals/countries actually get no benefit from being “responsible”. They’ll just get bred out/outbred in the not so long term. This is of course aided and abetted by our friends in the ruing class, who are keen to reduce labour bargaining strength in the way they know and love, which is opening teh gates, with all the benefits that accrue from that.

    It also seems to me the solution is obvious, but not very palatable.

    So, as you (we) were. Leave it to the kids, such as they are.

  3. Most large businesses donate money to both of the major political parties. Not sure why anyone would think that the ALP would prioritise workers over business. You know what they say, he who pays the piper calls the tune.

  4. Lord DudleyMEMBER

    I’m surprised the LNP haven’t started hyping up the refugee bogeyman. That’s what initially kept the punters distracted and allowed the LNP to crank immigration through the roof. John Howard even admitted it on radio once.

    Maybe they don’t need the refugee bogeyman now that big Australia is bipartisan. After all, who else are you going to vote for? Clive? Pauleen? The preferences will mostly flow back to the LNP anyway.

    The current situation is proof that rich people are just smarter and should run everything.

    • This is possibly where the current complete blackout policy on any refugee arrivals works against them.

      Can’t fan the flames of outrage when you’ve convinced people there’s no refugees arriving anymore !

      • Lord DudleyMEMBER

        This is a very good point! So the question is, how to get the punters to swallow big Australia. Perhaps a broader version of the campaign that ousted Rudd? e.g. just say that lower labour supply and higher wages will cause all employers to close shop and move to the dynamic hyper-efficient capitalist paradise of Lesotho or something.

        • The implication being that the coalition is dishonest about migration while the ALP has been upfront about it?
          I show you Exhibit A: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-06-27/gillard-shuts-door-on-big-australia/884050
          Shortly after this Migration was ramped up. Contrast with Kevin Rudd and current Coalition who have at least been upfront about their migration fetish.

          Just because John Howard, last seen in 2007, used refugees as a scapegoat, doesn’t mean all coalition governments do.

        • Lord DudleyMEMBER

          “The implication being that the coalition is dishonest about migration while the ALP has been upfront about it?”

          Yeah, nah, I don’t think most people will read that from what I said. I previously stated the support for big Australia is now bipartisan. However, there’s no doubt that the LNP started the trend, and have driven the selling of it to the average punter over the last 20 years. Labor have become shit on this front as well, but the LNP blazed the trail on this one.

  5. RanganutsMEMBER

    Oversimplistic criticisms from most of you with regards to this. I do wonder if some of the economists on this forum have operated at a grass roots level in their careers? Or actually run a business?

    I am seeing small and mediums sized businesses in capital cities and regional areas close down or greatly reduce in size because they simply cannot get staff. “Oh but pay them more wages,” you cry! How can these businesses compete against highly paid mining wages or more lucrative industries where margins are greater?

    I lost 6 subcontractors in the last quarter to the mines, (these guys were on $100-130k a year). My industry simply doesn’t allow for a 30% rate increase. This isn’t me having a whinge mind you, (I will survive), but I am seeing mum and dad businesses really hurting and working ludicrous hours to try and keep things going, simply because they haven’t got the people to support it. Businesses which may have usually run with 4-5 staff, but have lost 1-2 of to other industries. You can’t easily replace these people in the current climate and they are getting zero responses from their job ads, (anything under 5% unemployment is basically society operating at full employment in my opinion).

    A blanket criticism of immigration on this site is just to appeal to your subscriber base. If you guys want to not pay ridiculous prices for your bananas then you should support some level of migration. It’s all about balance.

    • The curse of mining setting the marginal wage cost. Mind you, mining wages in most other countries are low, just we do it on huge scale with lot of imported technology. I’m sure a Chinese coal miner driving a top cave miner earns peanuts compared to our hi vis. And we imported the technology which is probably just as well!

    • I’m happy to pay a fair price for bananas and I want the labourers involved to get a fair wage, and the land owner also to be paid appropriately for his efforts.

      Supporters of cheap labour such as yourself can always find reasons why other inferior people should be lowly paid. If you like the idea of cheap labour then I suggest you take one of the jobs yourself.

      No, you’re too good for that.

      There are structural reasons why a resource rich country with expensive urban land cannot compete in the production of easily shipped manually produced items, in the absence of protective tarriffs. Since Keating we have seen countless businesses disappear in Australia for this reason.

      On the margin there are now many businesses that are on the verge of closing for these same economic reasons. Only a flood of immigrants to exploit life slaves keeps these businesses running. If we are not going to solve the underlying problems, perhaps these businesses should simply close and we will import their product instead.

      • RanganutsMEMBER

        Would I want to pick fruit now? No, not at my age and with 4 children. But I have had my fair share of entry level jobs during my life and never viewed myself as, ‘too good,’ for anything. I’ve packed boxes on a production line as well as cleaned toilets, (for a minimum wage), and in my 20’s that served me fine. Not now though.

        Entry level jobs are not always about exploitation and not every employer tries to fiddle the system and exploit their workers. What is a fair price to pay a fruit picker or a toilet cleaner? Not all jobs are created equal though and indeed not all people are created equal and we can’t pay everyone $70k+ a year.

        Some of you are stating you will happily pay 3 times for their bananas and 20%+ at a restaurant. Ah, no you wouldn’t. You haven’t thought this through at all.

        • What is a fair price to pay a fruit picker or a toilet cleaner?

          No less than minimum wage is a good place to start.

          The lowest paid job should provide at least enough to provide food, shelter (within a reasonable distance) and basic lifestyle for an individual – and arguably for a typical family of four.

    • “…you should support some level of migration. It’s all about balance”.

      We do support immigration under 100k a year – what Australia had for the 100 years after Federation.

      What we don’t support is the obscene levels witnessed in the 15 years prior to COVID, which the IGR has vowed to repeat ad infinitum.

      You are obviously new to this site and have missed this important point. It is all about balance.

      • RanganutsMEMBER

        I’ve been a member for over a year and by and large I do like reading opposing views as it assists me in forming my own opinions.

        However! 100k a year seems well under what is required to support the current system. How many people retire or leave the workforce a year and how many enter it through coming of age etc? How many kids are getting sucked into useless degrees or Tafe courses as opposed to joining the workforce and taking on these entry level jobs, (which can then lead to a life long career)? How is an aging, top heavy population going to be supported over the next 10 years? It’s a complex problem.

        • The IGR has immigration running at 235k a year for decades. This is more than the 15 years pre-Covid (220k a year).
          Do you agree with such high levels off immigration? What level do you think is appropriate? Do you think that our major cities, which are the dumping grounds are better today than 20 years ago and should double in size again over the next 50 years (as projected by the ABS)?
          These are the questions you should be asking yourself.

        • However! 100k a year seems well under what is required to support the current system. How many people retire or leave the workforce a year and how many enter it through coming of age etc?

          Given the number of under/unemployed people had been sitting at just under a million for at least a year before COVID (note that this does not cover people who have given up looking for work), and certainly in that ballpark for years beforehand, it’s pretty clear that there’s no need for additional people at all.

          How many kids are getting sucked into useless degrees or Tafe courses as opposed to joining the workforce and taking on these entry level jobs, (which can then lead to a life long career)?

          This is completely arse-about-face.

          Kids are going into “useless degrees or TAFE courses” because there aren’t enough entry-level jobs for them and because many (probably most) of those jobs “require” some sort of degree or certification to even make a first cut for consideration.

          How is an aging, top heavy population going to be supported over the next 10 years?

          Automation, lower unemployment and fewer bvllshit jobs.

          • kierans777MEMBER

            How is an aging, top heavy population going to be supported over the next 10 years?

            Maybe by removing the protected species tag around retirees. Reform super. Get rid of the the tax concessions, and middle class welfare. If retirees need a helping hand I’m all for it. Boost the Aged Pension. But if you’ve squirrelled away millions in property and shares you shouldn’t get a tax payer cent.

        • Display NameMEMBER

          We have some lovely favelas coming along in Sydney now. It is not possible to legislate for migrants to go to the bush in any meaningful way that won’t be rorted from day dot. We need to start high skilled migration, because we sure do not have that at the moment. We need to start training people again instead of insisting the 3rd world do that so we then get the benefit for free. Many of those international Uni students are not here for a great education, they are after that path to citizenship and the degrees they take are often not in demand and are ones with minimum face to face time. Anecdotally, from my children’s uni experience (and their friends), many of these students can barely speak English, let alone write it.

          The whole system is the wrong way around for a productive economy where the average punter gets to participate. And frankly the hospitality industry should put wages AND prices up. Some may find they don’t really have a business.

        • ”I’ve been a member for over a year and by and large I do like reading opposing views as it assists me in forming my own opinions.
          …………How is an aging, top heavy population going to be supported over the next 10 years? It’s a complex problem.”

          Perhaps a good shorthand way of working out the appropriate intake level is to look at wage growth. It has clearly been very depressed for the last 8 years which is a strong indication that over supply is impacting on wage growth. Historically periods of labour shortage have helped ensure the efficiency dividend is shared rather than hoarded by employers via greater barging power for labour. In turn this then helps incentivise investment in productivity improvement by employers. We are not going to support an aging population well with falling productivity and it wont be much of a country for the young if they are competing with cheap imported labour for jobs with lower wages. It’s time to meet the challenge head on.

    • Strange Economics of low wagesMEMBER

      So if there is a shortage, then the minimum wage for an overseas worker should be set at average wage or 70k per year, not 40k per year.

      Plenty of locals will work for that, but not 10$ an hour like exploited restaurant staff.

      If fruit prices depend on workers earning 5$ an hour, we should pay 3 times for our bananas which would be the fair price.

      Locals can’t live on 10$ an hour as they have to rent an overpriced house and don’t win a PR bonus. Apparently foreign workers can just live in a van or something, with the promise of a PR worth about 300K to them, if they are quiet for 2 years.
      Oh no, restaurant bills gone up 20% in the 4 stars. The horror.

  6. Somebody should sue “Labor” and demand they change their name. They are the useful idiots of the wealthy elite that privatises the gains from mass immigration via cheaper labour costs and an expanded consumer base, while ordinary Australians bear the costs.

    It’s the US spelling of Labor. That country was built off the back of slavery and then cheap Latino labour so the ALP is being pretty true to label.

  7. I'll have anotherMEMBER

    It’s so sad. I’m sure if most Aussies had half a clue this would never be allowed to happen