Australia has outsourced migration policy to the private sector

Issues surrounding Australia’s use of temporary labour migration as a means of filing shortages in the labour market have suddenly hit the media with revelations by the Fairfax media of widespread fraud in the 457 visa scheme  and news today that the government has concluded a Regional Migration Agreement to facilitate the use of semi-skilled labour in the Ichthys gas project in the Northern Territory.

Public Law and Policy Research Unit members, Alex Reilly and Joanna Howe have contributed to the discussion, putting forward a proposal for a dedicated low skilled work visa with appropriate labour market testing, which they argue will be better manage Australia’s low skill labour needs, reducing fraud, and eliminating the need for industry specific agreements. They argue that Australia’s current legal settings are not adequately regulating the incidence of low skilled migrant work in Australia. On the one hand, dedicated pathways for low skilled workers are too cumbersome and are not being utilised effectively. On the other hand, large numbers of migrant workers (in particular international students and working holiday makers) are using visas to work in Australia without proper regulatory protections, skewing the labour market, and exposing these workers to vulnerable work and exploitation.

Read Alex and Joanna’s piece on The Conversation here.

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