Business rejects ACTU’s attempt to scapegoat temporary migrants

03 May 2018 |

The leading voice of business in Australia, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, rejects the ACTU’s attempt to scapegoat temporary migrants, and stoke the politics of fear and division within Australian workplaces and the broader community.

“It is frustrating the ACTU is trying to create concerns in the community about the impact of our migration system based on so many wrong and misleading statements”, Australian Chamber CEO, James Pearson, said

“By suggesting our unemployment problem is caused by temporary visa holders, the ACTU is ignoring the need to apply serious solutions to a serious problem that affects so many people, including too many young Australians.

“It is important to highlight the facts, instead of giving into the fears that the ACTU is trying to stoke with its five point plan:

  • It is incorrect to say one in ten people in the Australian labour force are on a temporary visa. The Australian Chamber has repeatedly refuted this claim with the evidence – and is supported by the ABC’s Fact Check which said the claim is “unsubstantiated”: https://ab.co/2JNSKCy
  • Calling the migration program a system of employer-sponsored ‘guest” workers that gives employers all the power is misleading. A significant percentage of temporary visa holders are New Zealanders who have unlimited work rights and do not require sponsorship to work here.  Two other large categories of visa holders are international students and working holiday makers who also are not sponsored to come here.  They are not beholden to any employer.  Less than 10% of the temporary visa holders with work rights are sponsored by employers.
  • International students and working holiday makers, through significant export earnings (over $28 billion) and tourism benefits, create wealth and jobs for Australians as well as delivering a highly beneficial cultural exchange. Although these visa holders have some work rights, they are not all employed. When they do gain employment, it is in jobs that are open to Australians to perform, but are often in locations and in occupations many Australians are not applying for.
  • All work performed by temporary visa holders is required to be paid in accordance with workplace laws. Temporary skilled migrants who are sponsored by employers are required to be paid market rates of pay which may be well above regulated rates of pay.
  • Temporary skilled visas are already only available where the employer has not been able to fill a skilled vacancy. It would not be practical or relevant, and would be detrimental for all temporary visas with work rights, including students and working holiday makers, to be submitted to a skills shortages test.   Students are here to study, and the 20 hours per week they are entitled to work is a supplement to their main purpose which is to achieve a qualification in one of our fine Australian educational institutions.  Similarly, working holiday makers have limitations of how long they can work, and the money they earn is overwhelmingly spent in Australia on their holiday experience.

“At the same time that we are calling out the ACTU for these mistakes and misleading statements, we recognise it’s important for the business community to get behind efforts to ensure exploitation doesn’t happen, whether employees are migrants or Australians,” Mr Pearson said.

“The Australian Chamber is working hard to persuade governments to focus on providing skills development opportunities for Australians.

“We need to properly fund the vocational training system, including TAFE, and provide unemployed Australians with appropriate support and opportunities to gain work experience and jobs.

“The business community welcomes a sensible debate and sound policy proposals to address these issues. The ACTU’s comments on temporary migrants must not be allowed to become a victory of fear over facts.”

Duncan Bremner

Director - Public Affairs and Advocacy

P  |  0448 822 666

E  |  [email protected]

Jenny Lambert

Director - Employment Education and Training

P  |  0418 277 919

E  |  [email protected]

Want to hear more from us?

NewsletterMedia Releases