By Scott Walker
What is all the political fuss surrounding immigration about? Is it just scare tactics or political grandstanding? Being in the industry for the last 10 years very little makes sense right now.
The Liberals are saying immigrants are important to the backbone of Australia, create jobs and don’t cost jobs, but are cutting visa numbers and making it harder for small businesses to employ skilled overseas people by removing PR pathways. They are also cutting popular visas to replace them in November with who knows what. The new parent visa is abysmal with high fees, huge restrictions including choosing which 2 parents you sponsor, and capping the number at 15,000 parents – which is to relieve our apparently failing infrastructure.
Labor say the all skilled workers should have a pathway to PR but the salaries – which are specified under legislation to be a market salary–which must not undercut Australian workers wages–should be raised to $65,000 per year. Local or international debate aside, can a small business afford a cook at $65,000 per year when the average wage is $54,000? With labors’ parent proposal you can bring up to 4 parents and there is no cap – which is lovely, but it also means the backlog of the 97,000 parents waiting for their parent visa grants could get this visa while waiting for their permanent visa – having what effect on the very hospitals immigrants are apparently clogging.
457 and TSS primary visas holders amount to roughly 0.68% of the workforce, have a market salary rate – they are not undercutting Australian workers, get paid super and pay tax. Employers have to prove they could not find an equivalent Australian. And the cost to the employer can be $7200 to sponsor an overseas worker – so it is not entered into lightly.
Neither party wants to stem international students that have work rights and no fixed minimum salaries – but also contribute roughly $32 billion to the Australian GDP.
So I ask again. Do the numbers justify the political attention?