SENATOR KRISTINA KENEALLY
DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
SENATOR RAFF CICCONE
CHAIR OF THE SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON TEMPORARY MIGRATION
DEPUTY OPPOSITION WHIP IN THE SENATE
SENATOR FOR VICTORIA
SENATE INQUIRY FINDS TEMPORARY MIGRATION LEADS TO EXPLOITATION
The Morrison Government's temporary migration settings have allowed unscrupulous employers to exploit and underpay workers on temporary visas, while simultaneously reducing work opportunities and wages for Australian workers.
Australian parents would be rightly shocked to discover that the fruit in their kids’ lunchboxes could have been picked by exploited temporary visa holders working in slavery-like conditions on some Australian farms.
Not only that, Australian workers, especially low-skilled workers, are experiencing the impact of increased temporary migration, with lower wages and less access to jobs becoming a major problem.
It is clear from the evidence provided to the Committee that the composition of Australia's migrant intake, including the significant increase in temporary work visas at the expense of permanent migration, has put downward pressure on Australian wages.
The Select Committee on Temporary Migration, chaired by Labor Senator Raff Ciccone, today exposed a range of alarming practices further highlighting concerns with Australia’s temporary migration program.
The Committee has handed down 40 recommendations aimed at protecting vulnerable temporary visa holders from exploitation and improving protections for all workers, including:
- Significantly increasing the resources provided to the Department of Home Affairs to improve visa application assessment times;
- The abolition of the 88-day farm work requirement of the Working Holiday Maker program;
- Banning employers who exploit workers from employing temporary visa holders;
- Providing protections to those temporary visa workers who report exploitation;
- Establishing a small-claims tribunal to quickly and easily resolve wage theft disputes;
- Holding franchisors financially responsible for the underpayment of employees by franchisees; and
- Establishing a National Labour Hire Licensing Scheme to tackle Australia’s system of dodgy labour hire operators.
The Committee also made key recommendations prioritising permanency over ever-increasing temporary visa numbers and to provide more resources to improve settlement services for migrants in our communities.
The Morrison-Joyce Government has granted more temporary work visas than any government in Australian history, and the Intergenerational Report projected that under the Liberals the number of temporary migrants will almost double over the next 40 years.
Australia is a nation built great by migration – namely, permanent migration - and that should continue. The international borders won’t stay shut forever.
COVID-19’s unprecedented and sudden impact on Australia’s immigration program provides an opportunity to reshape the composition of Australia’s migration program to ensure it best supports Australian workers, creates jobs and gets wages moving again.
Labor established the Select Committee on Temporary Migration in December 2019. The committee received over 131 submissions from individuals and organisations throughout Australia.
WEDNESDAY, 1 SEPTEMBER 2021