The Australian Greens thank everyone who made a public submission and/or public representation to this inquiry into Australia’s Skilled Migration Program.
The interaction between labour laws and migration laws in Australia are full of loopholes which allow for massive exploitation of local and overseas workers. Those loopholes need to be closed, but this report fails to take the necessary steps.
Further, loopholes in free trade agreements allow employers to circumvent local labour laws, which leads to the systemic exploitation of temporary visa workers and local workers being denied job opportunities and training. Australia must stop signing up to these unfair trade deals.
Established Australian rates of pay should be guaranteed. Labour laws must be properly enforced to ensure that local legal standards are being applied everywhere, both for local workers and for migrant workers.
To overcome any labour shortages, skills training of local workers should be the priority. Instead of weakening labour market testing and undermining Australian wages and conditions, jobs should be advertised locally first and temporary working visas should be used to fill genuine skill shortages or where international collaboration is important (such as research). The Australian Greens do not support a weakening of labour market testing.
The Australian Greens are concerned about recommendations that would permit wealthy individuals and corporations to access visas in a way that everyday workers can’t. As with family reunion visas, we do not support there being one pathway to permanent residency for the rich, and another for everyone else.
The Australian Greens support moves to provide temporary visa holders with better pathways to permanent residency. Critically, temporary visa holders should not be automatically locked out of the permanent migration program. The system regulating the use of migrant workers should be negotiated between unions, employer organisations and the federal government.
The Australian Greens do not support the part of Recommendation 7 that recommends:
…conditions for permanency should continue to include … competent English language ability; and [that] applicants should be under the age of 45.
Nor do we support the part of Recommendation 10 that recommends:
…the Government consider changes to post-study work arrangements for a subset of international student graduates where those graduates have ... [met] relevant English language standards.
The Australian Greens do not support the contention that to be worthy of Australian citizenship, or to be permitted to enter a pathway towards Australian citizenship, a person must possess a particular level of English language proficiency.
Establishing an arbitrary criterion that temporary migrants on a pathway to permanent residency should be under the age of 45 is also not supported.
The Australian Greens note that Australia’s Age Discrimination Act 2004 prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of age. As it is wrong to discriminate against local workers on the basis of age, so should we recognise that it is wrong to discriminate against workers from other countries on the basis of age.
Applying different age policies based on which region a foreign worker can, or wants to, find work in is also not supported by the Australian Greens.