Govt rejects research backing immigration cut

The debate of immigrant workers willing to work for lesser pay than Australian workers is sure to become an increasingly hot topic. As this recent article indicated:

Minimum wage: Anxious workers offer skills for $4 an hour

AUSTRALIANS are offering their skills for as little as $4 an hour on websites that let them compete against each other for work in an eBay-like bidding system.

Workers anxious to secure work during the global economic downturn are turning to websites such as Elance and iFreelance, where the lowest wage gets the gig.

So, how will the federal government’s rejection of research supporting claims that this will, indeed, become increasingly the case, play out with unions, workers and their families, many of which are carrying large personal debts (something I continually point out as a major sticking point for our economy in general)?

Govt rejects research backing immigration cut

The federal government has rejected research which shows its $42 billion economic stimulus package will not save jobs unless Australia’s immigration intake is slashed.

In a paper to be released on Friday, demographic experts warn that new permanent and temporary migrant workers will soak up the 90,000 jobs the package is supposed to support.

That is because the immigration intake will exceed the number of jobs the commonwealth was trying to protect, The Australian Financial Review reports.

The experts advocate cutting the skilled intake to between 40,000 and 50,000 visas – down from a projected 133,500 – and forcing employers who want to import staff to prove that local skills are not available.

“It seems to me that this research could not be right,” federal Employment Minister Julia Gillard told ABC Television.

“We are expediting the immigration of people who have the skills that we need.”

This research and its recommendations make sense to me simply because of the economic climate at present and for the foreseeable future.

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37 Responses

  1. And from: http://www.australianit.news.com.au/story/0,27574,25081589-15306,00.html

    A spokesman for Senator Evans said yesterday the 457 program had sharply declined amid worsening financial conditions. “Figures show that application rates for subclass 457 visas in January 2009 are now 30per cent lower than in September 2008, when the economic downturn struck,” the spokesman said.

    Furthermore, plans to introduce market rates for 457 workers would effectively make them a more expensive option, the spokesman said.

    A cut in next year’s migration program was also likely, he added.

  2. Min

    “It seems to me that this research could not be right,” federal Employment Minister Julia Gillard told ABC Television.

    “We are expediting the immigration of people who have the skills that we need.”

    There seems to be some confusion in government ranks about immigration policy. Or have the government done its homework and know exactly where the shortfall are, and are therefore targeting specific workers with the necessary skill sets?

    One would also hope that that government are clear about the training and education for its own citizens who may be capable of feeling the skill shortages.

  3. Importing workers willing to undercut the pay and conditions of Australian workers is the ALP’s version of the hated Howard Workplace revolution. Surely one scheme is just as bad as the other. Anyone seen her angry face and blather on about the potential of unfair workplace practices?

    Moderator: This comment has been edited

  4. …redheaded slut..

    That was completely unnecessary, Stephan. Disagree with her, fine. Calling someone that simply because you disagree with their political opinion though is low-brow & demeaning to all involved.

    On a more relevant note, I am in complete agreement that to save “Australian” jobs – you need to stop bringing in non-Australians to fill them. That is simple common-sense.

    On the other hand, it is not so much “jobs” that are the focus of the stimulus, but “economic activity”. So long as the new recruits are spending a majority of their earned money in Australia, the changes are not a “stimulus” question but simply one of “national employment figures”.

    Personally, I’d like to see more jobs kept for Australians. Not through racism (I could care less where the immigrants come from), but because bringing in people willing to work for less drags down the entire wage base at a time where the cost of living is still increasing.

  5. “Stephan, on February 20th, 2009 at 5:28 pm Said:

    Importing workers willing to undercut the pay and conditions of Australian workers is the ALP’s version of the hated Howard Workplace revolution. Surely one scheme is just as bad as the other. Anyone seen the redheaded slut put on her angry face and blather on about the potential of unfair workplace practices?”

    Exactly Stephan, similar to Work Choices. In fact, the Liberals were keen to ramp up immigration simply to prove to unions that there was an alternative route. It’s a bit hypocritical of Labor to pursue this avenue, in my opinion.

    I could be wrong, but that’s how I’m seeing it at the moment

  6. Stephan

    “Anyone seen the redheaded slut put on her angry face and blather on about the potential of unfair workplace practices?”

    I only just caught on! It is unnecessary.

    B.Tolputt

    “Personally, I’d like to see more jobs kept for Australians. Not through racism (I could care less where the immigrants come from), but because bringing in people willing to work for less drags down the entire wage base at a time where the cost of living is still increasing.”

    Racism really has nothing to do with it Brian as far as many people are concerned (I’m sure a few feel along racist lines though). It’s about being sensible in our decisions especially given the circumstances.

  7. John, the conflicting statements obviously require clarification.

  8. Not all apples are oranges? I vote we start with the foreign doctors. That should save a few pink-batt installer jobs.

  9. Racism really has nothing to do with it, Brian

    The name is Ben, for future reference 🙂

    I was not stating that anyone here is racist, quite the opposite. However, a common refrain for the racist parties is to use the “jobs for Australians” line. In this case of rising unemployment, it makes sense but I don’t want to be associated with those that use the excuse at the drop of a hat.

  10. The linked article to AAP needs work. It opens thus:

    “The federal government has rejected research”

    Has it? At this point (and to the best of my knowledge) the research report is yet to hit the table. All we can deduce is that there’s been a leak. A teaser.

    According to the AFR:

    “In a paper to be released on Friday”

    Friday! Today? Next Friday? Is it out now? When? We are not told. Sloppy journalism.

    Then we have:

    “demographic experts warn”

    Demographic experts? Is it too much to ask that we have some names so that we could check out their supposed expertise. Why the secrecy? It goes on:

    “forcing employers who want to import staff to prove that local skills are not available.”

    I thought that was always part of the requirements even if it wasn’t strictly policed. One lives and learns but given this article one remains sceptical.

    It seems to me Gillard’s response to a yet to be released report by unnamed ‘experts was perfectly appropriate. She should wait for the paper rather than shoot from the hip. To date she hasn’t ‘rejected’ it – just cast doubt on its veracity. FGS, she hasn’t seen the paper and therefore wouldn’t be briefed on a stance to take.

    And if one goes to another version of the article we find Gillard has support:

    “The skilled program… can’t be turned off and on,” Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) chief executive Heather Ridout told ABC Television.

    The government needed to be very careful about “chopping” immigration numbers, she said, adding that employers were committed to current intake.

    “If we do not keep the immigration scheme robust our economic growth potential will be much reduced.”

    http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=754746

    Given min’s link, the demand for 457 visas is already in decline.

  11. B.Tolputt, on February 20th, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    What is a ‘dog whistle‘?

  12. B. Tolputt, I’m just testing the ‘outrage’ meter here at Blogocrats. I would like to draw your attention to a topic from about 2 weeks ago. It was suggested that an ex-PM was a prick. So I would say to you “Disagree with him, fine. Calling someone that simply because you disagree with their political opinion though is low-brow & demeaning.” You can only afford to be precious if you are consistent.

    MODERATOR: Your testing of the “outrage meter” is duly noted. It’s not so much “outrage” but just trying to keep things civil and avoid usurping the post and digressing from the topic at hand.

  13. I am consistent. He was and is a prick; and Julia *swoon* is not a slut, but alas taken by a better advocate for Aussie male hair health and the role which beer consumption plays in maintaining lock lustre than I; and your comments are offensive.

  14. “You can only afford to be precious if you are consistent”Stephan

    I agree. I have to because I enjoy being lowbrow at times.

  15. And there I was thinking that a possessed PS3 controller was responsible for the consumption of red dwarves and cool cats calling holographic pedants smegheads.

  16. MODERATOR MODE

    Let’s move back to the topic shall we..

  17. Only tried the PS3 controller once, not an effective way to input sentences.
    I didn’t think that it even got submitted.

  18. I was just gauging summin, and hadn’t noticed that we’d been derailed by an unscientific social experiment. Na uh. What was the topic again?

  19. Guest worker schemes, and eventually there will be 2 500 from Tonga, Vanuatu, Kiribati and Papua New Guinea, have a number of aims. Apart from addressing labour shortages in rural areas they also assist the fragile economies of Pacific islands.

    As for displacing Australians from fruit picking and the like, it’s not an issue because (generally speaking) Australians won’t return year upon year because the work is less than pleasant.

    There is a need to be more sophisticated in policy responses rather than blanket bans.

  20. Stephan has a point, albeit distastefully made. I’m kind of getting tired of seeing politicians referred to as “Turdbull” for instance. Either restrain it or allow it for both sides of politics I reckon.

  21. “Redheaded s&%t”

    I thought he was referring to Pauline Hanson.

  22. Nature 5, why on earth do we pay the dole if that’s the case? It must be unpleasant having the sun beat down on you as you line up for the next wave at Byron Bay (generally speaking).

    How many workers do you think are locked into unpleasant jobs because they have a mortgage and a family?

  23. I would have thought that with rising unemployment, we don’t need to import more people to be unemployed.
    BTW, Stephan, how dare you insult the noble redhead, one of nature’s finest creatures, possessed of a rare and delicate beauty to be treasured and, dare I say it, worshiped and showered with gold, diamonds and real estate.

  24. Jane, are you alluding to the Bird of Paradox?

  25. LOL

  26. “B.Tolputt, on February 20th, 2009 at 5:51 pm Said:

    Racism really has nothing to do with it, Brian

    The name is Ben, for future reference 🙂

    I was not stating that anyone here is racist, quite the opposite. However, a common refrain for the racist parties is to use the “jobs for Australians” line. In this case of rising unemployment, it makes sense but I don’t want to be associated with those that use the excuse at the drop of a hat.”

    Lol Where did I get Brian from? I know you weren’t stating anyone here was racist Ben. I could have worded it a little differently. Nor do I have the slightest doubt about your intent.

    It’s certainly a delicate issues and at the moment quite confusing. Immigrations levels do need to be sensibly monitored and to simply try and ramp up intakes without giving careful thought to employment levels would be somewhat ignorant. Especially given that unemployment may rise considerably.

    I can’t see that they wouldn’t have done their homework but stranger things have happened.

  27. Stephan, on February 20th, 2009 at 7:19 pm Said:

    “why on earth do we pay the dole if that’s the case?”

    Not sure what you mean exactly? I didn’t think that our current dole requirements demanded that the unemployed relocate to far off places like Kununurra for example.

    Are you suggesting they should? As you would know there are historical precedents on forced mobility.

    In the tradition of Tom of Melbourne’s “Redheaded s&%t”. Please explain.

  28. Stephan

    I’m starting to get your sense of humour. If only I could have seen the smirk on you face when you wrote it. Devious bastard! (Lol) You had me nodding at your comments that I didn’t even see the ‘redhead s$#t ‘comments.

  29. I think immigration of competent legislators should be increased.

  30. What I meant, Nature 5, was that if we have work available why on earth do we bring people in from o’seas to do it? Why not invite dole recipients to do the work? Sure we don’t want massive dislocation and forced relocations but I’m willing to be that if CentreLink closed all its offices except the one in Kununurra that regional centre’s population would skyrocket.

    There may well be work in a factory at Allambie Heights or sales positions in the City. What would stop a dole recipient from filling a vacancy like that? Pride? The call of the surf? No one can guarantee that work is glamorous, challenging and satisfying but such is life.

    Aren’t you at all disturbed that a party that is supposed to represent the Australian worker is doing all it can to lower wages and conditions? It’s not that long ago that issues like wages and conditions were of paramount importance. Now we see evidence of people willing to work for $4 per hour or some silly amount. Your statement indicates that it wouldn’t be Australians working for that ridiculous amount so it must be a guest worker.

    In reference to the Bird of Paradox I was testing the ‘outrage’ meter to see if those who showed no upset at the word prick would be similarly unconcerned about the word s**t but such is not the case. It would appear that the only ALP bas bleu is to be protected at all costs. She reeks of library paste.

    John, should we get a room?

  31. Stephan, on February 20th, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    Good post. Food for thought.

  32. Stephan(ie)

    Sweetheart, I find your argument quite compelling. The potential race to the bottom where wages and conditions are concerned is a real concern. When jobs are plentiful its not a pressing issue but given the prospect of large scale unemployment and then being forced to compete with immigrants who are willing to work at much lower rates may even lead to racial tensions and social instability.

    No doubt many employers would welcome a large pool of immigrant workers to choose from, but then again, reducing costs and maintaining profit margins is their primary objective.

  33. “Jane, are you alluding to the Bird of Paradox?”

    Ah yes indeedy, Stephan. The wonderful Bird of Paradox, eyes of emerald and sapphire, delicate cheeks of ruby, legs of the finest alabaster…………

  34. “No doubt many employers would welcome a large pool of immigrant workers to choose from, but then again, reducing costs and maintaining profit margins is their primary objective.” John McPh.

    That sums it up in a nutshell John. Why pay someone $40 an hour to do the job when the opportunity is there to pay someone $10 an hour who can do the job, and is willing to do the job.

    At least, that is, the opportunity was there under Work Choices.

  35. From an Age artcle on Tongan guest workers:

    “We simply cannot find the numbers we require and while the economic downturn will have some effect on the markets, there is work in harvesting and pruning which has to be done to maintain the farm’s long-term viability.”

    He said it would be much cheaper to use Australian employees.

    “There are a lot of costs involved,” he said. “This is not a cheap-labour option — all the men are paid under Australian awards and have superannuation and other conditions guaranteed.”

    http://www.theage.com.au/national/football-clubs-call-cements-arrival-of-tongan-guest-workers-20090220-8drh.html?page=-1

  36. Tony

    There will always be exceptions to the rule. There’s been numerous cases where immigrant workers have been brought into Australia and been forced to work under less than ideal conditions.

    Bullied and abused, with no escape
    http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/bullied-and-abused-with-no-escape/2007/08/27/1188067034475.html
    Instead of performing the skilled work prescribed by their visas, Mr Balading and two Filipino co-workers on a cattle property in the Gulf of Carpentaria had become targets for bullying and discrimination, were underpaid and ordered to do back-breaking unskilled jobs.

  37. Sensible move

    Australia to cut skilled immigration
    http://www.cch.com.au/au/News/ShowNews.aspx?ID=29681&Type=F&TopicIDNews=9&CategoryIDNews=0&u_i=39595
    By Peter Veness

    CANBERRA, Feb 23 AAP – Skilled immigration will fall due to the global economic crisis, the federal government says.

    “I expect the numbers of our program to drop next year … as a reaction to the economic circumstances,” Immigration Minister Chris Evans told reporters.

    Senator Evans said the size of the cut would be a matter for cabinet.

    The government was very aware that labour demand would differ across regions and economic sectors.

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