Monday, August 19, 2013
Australian Left accused of demonising migrants
TONY Abbott has called on Kevin Rudd to distance himself from a $1 million union advertising crackdown on foreign workers, accusing the Prime Minister of demonising migrants who came to Australia through proper legal avenues.
The Opposition Leader said he was appalled at the stance taken by Mr Rudd on the issue, saying that 457 visa holders contributed to Australian society by working and paying taxes.
“Mr Rudd really should disassociate himself from this particular union campaign, particularly given one of the first things that he said on coming back into the Prime Ministership was `I'm sick of all the politics of division',” Mr Abbott said.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) will spend $1 million over the next two weeks in its advertising campaign to claim Mr Abbott wants to “massively expand” the temporary 457 visa program and put foreign workers first.
The campaign includes radio and billboard advertisements as well as television advertisements that began screening last night on free-to-air television networks in Tasmania and Queensland.
One of the ads features a worker who was among 106 redundant employees made to train 457 visa holders kept on by the employer.
Mr Abbott today said employers already had to meet requirement conditions to use foreign workers and that it was already more cost effective to source domestic workers to plug skills shortages.
“It's far more expensive to employ a 457 visa holder than it is to employ a local,” Mr Abbott said.”They aren't stealing our jobs, they are building our country.
“It appalls me, it really appalls me that the unions and Mr Rudd are running this campaign effectively to demonise the skilled migrants upon whose backs our country has been built.
“Just about every Australian is a migrant or a descendent of migrants and frankly we should be honouring and cherishing the contributions that migrants who've come to this country legally, the right way to join our team, have made.”
Mr Abbott made the comments in the western Sydney seat of Lindsay, where he released the Coalition's policy to crack down on gun imports.
Earlier, he was in the Sydney electorate of Bennelong to announce his small business policy.
Mr Rudd's first act after being returned to the prime ministership was to pass through the lower house Labor's contentious 457 visa legislation, placing more onerous requirements on employers.
The new restrictions include labour market testing provisions for employers, tougher monitoring of compliance by the Fair Work Ombudsman and strengthening the ability of the immigration department to prosecute wrongdoers.
It also includes a new dob-in hotline, allowing employees to report employers for unfairly treating foreign workers. It will also require businesses to allocate one to two per cent of payroll for training purposes for every year of the visa sponsorship.
The legislation was opposed by business and industry groups who pressed for evidence of rorts under the current regime.
Jealousy of LEGAL immigrants in West Australia
THE Irish are threatening to boycott WA over a Budget policy to impose $4000 public school fees for children of parents working here on 457 visas.
While some families look at moving interstate or overseas because they can't afford to pay up to $20,000 a year for five children, doctors warn the health system will suffer and principals fear some children simply won't go to school.
The decision to charge $4000 a child, announced in the State Budget this month, is being criticised internationally, making headlines in Dublin's The Irish Times this week.
Australian Medical Association WA president Richard Choong said he had received worrying feedback from Britain and Ireland and the fees would be a "game changer" for many overseas-trained GPs looking to move to WA on a 457 visa.
"This is one of the most negative policy decisions that I have seen for some years and one that will have a seriously negative impact on health in WA," he said. "We know from comments already made to us that this will encourage some GPs on 457 visas to leave WA for other states, or to move to another country.
"For others looking to come to WA from overseas it will mean a complete rethink of their plans. Not many will be able to carry a $4000 fee for the education of their children, especially if they have three or four children."
WA Primary Principals Association president Steve Breen said there was an incorrect assumption that 457 visa holders were highly skilled and therefore highly paid.
"For example, in Katanning there are a number of 457 workers in the abattoir they will struggle to pay the $4000 per student to send their kids to school," he said. "There is a potential for these children to not come to school."
The latest report from the Immigration Department shows there are 6180 people from the UK working in WA on 457 visas, followed by 4070 from Ireland, 3130 from the Philippines and 1330 from the US.
Education Minister Peter Collier said he had received mixed feedback and the Government was working towards making more information available soon.
Irish Families in Perth president Eimear Beattie said families of up to five children were considering moving elsewhere.
"There is a lot of panic out there because a lot of people have got huge families," she said. "This will deter a lot of people from coming out here. A lot of people who want to come out here are now asking if it's even worth coming here on the 457 visa.
"A lot of the families already here are actually thinking of leaving the country altogether, or moving to another state, or going to private schools."
Mother-of-five Claire Calvey said her family, who moved to Paraburdoo last year after arriving on a 457 visa from Ireland, was considering a move to Canada. She is circulating a petition, which has almost 1000 signatures.
Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive James Pearson said the school fee threatened to "undermine the effectiveness of the 457 visa scheme for current visa holders and their employers".
Opposition education spokeswoman Sue Ellery said a parliamentary inquiry had recommended any school fees be means-tested. "I am concerned that this is going to create a hidden class of children who are not educated," she said.
Mr Collier said the details would be finalised "as soon as possible" but he was confident "that WA will continue to be an attractive working destination for people from overseas".
The number of children of 457 visa holders attending public schools has jumped from 290 in 2005 to 8600 this year.
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