A possie in Aussie

January 25, 2010

Australians spooked by immigrants, but not by ‘illegals’, Dr Birrell

Our local Sunday tabloid, the Sunday Mail, put ‘Australians are spooked by record high immigration’, reporting on a poll by Galaxy Poll shows Aussies want immigration capped. Sixty-six per cent said that the Federal Government should cap immigration rates. Bob Birrell, an academic who is often called to comment on demographic and migration matters, said the figures show “the tide is turning”.

It may well be. Australia has had unprecedented rates of immigration over the last few years, mostly in the skilled worker and business categories.

The last time that numbers indicating that immigration numbers had gone too far was in 1993 at 67%, up from 56% the year before and dropping progressively to less than 30% in 2004. 1993 was near the last year of resettlement of around 130,000 Vietnamese refugees in Australia under the UNHCR Comprehensive Plan of Action, and soon after the end of the program that accepted nearly 20,000 Chinese as refugees as a result of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Dr Birrell said the economic shock of the global financial crisis, increasing house prices and continuing controversy over illegal immigration would have played a part in changing opinions. (I assume that professor Birrell means ‘undocumented arrivals’ or ‘asylum seekers’ – and surely knows that the term ‘illegal immigrants’ is not only incorrect, but inflammatory to boot).

The figures showing dissatisfaction with immigration don’t support the idea that the public has been ‘spooked’ by ‘illegal immigration’, however.

The numbers expressing concern for rate of immigration dropped from 41% to 33% from 1998 to 2001, while conversely the numbers of arrivals of asylum seekers by boat actually peaked over that period, as they have again peaked over the last 12 months.

It may be that poll respondents believe that increasing numbers of immigrants have caused them financial distress, but another item by David Uren, economics correspondent for the Australian reports that the arrival of almost 300,000 migrants and temporary workers last year

“was one of the biggest contributors to Australia’s superior economic performance during the global recession. Their spending delivered a stimulus at least as big as the government’s first cash splash, and the flexibility of a temporary migrant labour force that now holds about 7.5 per cent of all jobs helped the economy to ride out the downturn with a relatively little rise in unemployment.” Migrant spending a great stimulus to economy during crisis

Here is comment on the Sunday Mail story that made me laugh:

“I’m more worried about Australia being swamped by drop-kick bogans than immigrants”


January 20, 2010

Soon we will be fighting for immigrants – any immigrants

The new documentary movie The Demographic Winter (narrated in that ‘prophetic/lone voice of reason’, as one commenter says), explores the coming downfall of humanity caused because we are not reproducing sufficiently to  sustain our economies.

The movie implies that anyone who is not having children is not doing their duty.

Sociological Images, a great blog on Context.org, featured this movie, and pointed out how it is anti-gay, anti any sex outside marriage. It is, indeed, suspected of being propaganda for the Christian Right.

This is, however, a real and important issue. Its effects will overcome the barriers, both actual and ideological, against immigration of the marginalised from the Global South, because within the next few decades all economically-developed countries will be desperate for workers, from anywhere, of any colour and of any skill level. The recent sharp increases in skilled migration to Australia are just the beginning.

Sociological Images, and people who comment on the blog, usually give insightful reports, but this time paid little attention to what I see as the real issue here. Why assume that growth must continue?

Yes, the current wealthy lifestyles of the Global North are dependent on growth. And that means growth in numbers of people. But the world is already over-crowded and dying of the stress.

November 29, 2009

Something you don’t want to do? Get a marginalised migrant

Filed under: humor,humour,Immigrant workers — Nayano @ 7:43 am
Tags: , , ,

Happy Sunday Funday!
What would we do without marginalised migrants to do our dirty work?

(From KnoxNews.com)

November 2, 2009

Watch this, and be afraid of where the asylum seeker debate could take us

In the United States the immigration bête noire is illegal immigrants (read ‘Mexicans’), while in Australia ours is boatpeople.

9500 Liberty is a new documentary, based on the groundbreaking YouTube channel, 9500liberty, just released in the US. I hope it will make it to Australia. Here’s the synopsis:

“Prince William County, Virginia became ground zero in America’s explosive battle over immigration policy when elected officials adopted a law requiring police officers to question anyone they have “probable cause” to suspect is an undocumented immigrant.

9500 Liberty reveals the startling vulnerability of a local government, targeted by national anti-immigration networks using the Internet to frighten and intimidate lawmakers and citizens.

“Alarmed by a climate of fear and racial division, residents form a resistance using YouTube videos and virtual townhalls, setting up a real-life showdown in the seat of county government.

“The devastating social and economic impact of the “Immigration Resolution” is felt in the lives of real people in homes and in local businesses. But the ferocious fight to adopt and then reverse this policy unfolds inside government chambers, on the streets, and on the Internet. 9500 Liberty provides a front row seat to all three battlegrounds.

John Grisham says that “9500 Liberty makes it clear that when we, as a nation of immigrants debate the immigration issue, we are defining our very identity as Americans”.

For ‘immigration issue’ read ‘asylum seeker issue’, and for ‘Americans’ read ‘Australians’.


October 5, 2009

Pass the IELTS? Do not learn English if you want a visa

Why do so many international students have problems with the level of English language they need for their studies?

Why do so many people on skilled visas not get jobs in Australia, even though they are highly qualified?

Because it is possible to pass the IELTS at a high level with barely a word of English.

International students and skilled migrants are required to have high-level IELTS (International English Language Testing System) scores to get Australian visas.

In a submission to the senate inquiry into international student conditions, the University of Melbourne Graduate Student Association advocacy service argues that more funding should be allocated to language support for international students and that it is the responsibility of the University to provide this support.

In another submission, N. K. Aggarwal raises the question “do the students really come to Australia to study or simply use the Governments’ permitted method to attain permanent residence? Nearly 95 % of the overseas students attending vocational courses, settle down in Australia permanently”.

Study and employment are indeed secondary goals for many, whose primary aim is PR (permanent residency).

It is because of the PR Holy Grail that many scams have developed, including the one I was made privy to this weekend – books published in Chinese that give all of the questions that a candidate will come across in the IELTS exam, with the answers. Imposters. Secret documents. That’s the Australian visa business

There are for example 200 Reading texts used for the IELTS, which cycles through those randomly to produce each ‘unique’ test.

Chinese candidates can learn to look for two or three key words in the texts which alert them to which answers to give. This of course requires a lot of dedicated rote learning, but is much quicker than trying to actually become proficient in English at this level.

It would be a good idea to find a better testing system, rather than spending millions on remediation once the students and migrants are ion Australia.

Post script: A quote from Andrew Bartlett’s submission, which I wholeheartedly approve, but also want extended to the Chinese who arrived in 2005-2006 on 457 visas:

“It is grossly unfair to encourage international students to come on the promise of permanent residency, and then change the rules after they have arrived.”

August 31, 2009

Senator Evans wants to market Australia to migrants

Filed under: Immigrant workers,migration,PR — Nayano @ 12:16 pm
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Senator Evans says Australia needs a rational immigration debate, beyond the hysteria about the few hundred boat people who arrive each year.

”The annual figure this year [for skilled permanent migration] was, say, 115,000, but more than 500,000 came into the country. They came in as students, temporary workers, working holidaymakers … but the public still focuses on the 115,000 as if it’s got anything to do with reality and my attempts to have a more sophisticated debate about this have totally failed.”

Decisions about who came to Australia would be increasingly left to employers although, conversely, Australia would also be competing for the most highly skilled migrants. Senator Evans said to do that successfully the impacts of record high immigration on our liveability had to be tackled.

”In Australia we’ve got this sense of, ‘Well, we’re the lucky country’ and … people will naturally come here, and that’s still true to an extent. But other countries … are increasingly marketing themselves too.”

Migration rules set for revamp

August 11, 2009

Australia on trial in first Southeast Asian Court of Women

The first Southeast Asian Court of Women on HIV and Human Trafficking is being held in Bali. More than 20 Southeast Asian women have narrated their personal stories of exploitation and abuse.

I have been concerned about the 457 visa because, whatever controls the government may put in place, the worker is still beholden to the employer, and therefore reluctant to speak out Chinese slave labour in Australia

The stories sometimes do emerge, but most wait until they are out of the country.

Danton Remoto of ABS/CBN News reports the story of a Filipina woman exploited while on a 457 visa in Australia:

“Amalia was a call-center agent in Manila who wanted a better life for her child, who has learning difficulties, and herself. She was being beaten up by her husband, so she left him and raised her child alone.

“She applied for work in Australia as a Restaurant Duty Manager on a 457 visa. Her sister told her that it was a lopsided visa, since she could work for only one employer, her sponsor, and could not leave even if they were maltreating her. But she did not listen to her sister.

“She flew to Australia, only to discover that she is more of waitress and janitor than manager of the restaurant. She stayed in a cramped apartment with three other Filipinas and had many mysterious deductions in her paycheck. When she and her fellow Filipinas banded together with the help of Migrante and Buhay Foundation and asked for better treatment and just wages, the restaurant management fired them, citing the economic crunch as a reason.

“She returned to Manila and has filed a case against her employer, speaking out against the ills of not getting full information about the contract, culture and context of one’s foreign employment.” Filipina workers testify in Southeast Asian Court of Woman

August 4, 2009

Rudd sweetens unions with 457 visa hints

Filed under: 457 visas,Immigrant workers — Nayano @ 8:19 am
Tags: , ,

‘Curbs on the use of 457 visas’ was one of the carrots thrown by Rudd to the manufacturing and construction unions at the ALP conference last weekend. Rudd seeks long-term reform era

August 3, 2009

Chinese slave labour in Australia

Filed under: 457,457 visas,Immigrant workers,PR — Nayano @ 8:05 am
Tags: , ,

Chinese migrant workers employed by Perth construction firm Kentwood on 457 visas were paid less than $3 an hour. They sometimes worked 11 hours a day, seven days a week. Chinese migrants work in ‘slave labour’ conditions

The individual amounts paid ranged from $7502 to $12,405 for between 9 and 14 months’ work.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has initiated legal proceedings against Kentwood and company director Jian Yang Zhang, of Dianella, claiming he was the mastermind behind the underpayments.

Soon after the Fair Work Ombudsman contacted Kentwood, three of the workers were asked to enter Mr Zhang’s vehicle separately and sign a statement that they had worked no more than 40 hours a week. They refused.

The workers paid up to $2500 each to agents of Mr Zhang to secure jobs with Kentwood and have their 457 visas arranged. Cheap migrant workers vs greedy capitalists: no contest

The five were put to work on construction projects in Perth, a Chinese garden of remembrance in Kalgoorlie and a Chinese temple at the Springvale Cemetery in Melbourne.

Workers on 457 visas are real people, not just a line on a balance sheet

July 29, 2009

Indian women liberated by passing English test

The blogger at Faint Voice tells us that there is ‘a quiet revolution in the status of women in deep rural, backward caste and poor Punjab. Girls who in past were not sent to school would now look forward to getting preference over boys in being sent to school, given time off to house work to study and even in getting precedence in meal times.’

And Australia can take credit!

No, not another aid program – this time it is the IELTS (International English Language Test System) that is transforming lives of these women.

“While before the IELTS became the goal the lives of these girls was quite one of being second class citizens to the boys in the family.”

A good level of English as tested by the IELTS is the key to almost every Australian visa (except humanitarian and family visas).

And once you have a work or study visa, you are on the path to the prize of Permanent Residency.

Faint Voice says “the goal of citizenship pushes the youth out of rural India, at least in Punjab and Haryana, and they have been very enthusiastic in making it to Canada and UK. Australia is only recently emerging as a favourite”.

What has changed in the case of Australia is the vigorousness with which Australia has sought students and their fees. Study in Australia: “a recognised immigration racket”

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