A possie in Aussie

October 9, 2009

Backpackers: yet another category of exploited migrants

Are backpackers marginalised migrants?

I stretching things too far?

In 2007-08 the number of working holiday-makers young people increased by nearly 14.5% from 2006–07 to 2007–08 (DIAC). The report for 2008-09 will be released at the end of this month. Despite the global economic crisis, it is expected that the number of young people entering Australia on Working Holiday Visas will remain strong. More Young People Applying for Australian Working Holiday Visas

The “417 working visa” enables them to remain for 12 months and to work and earn money to augment the funds they bring with them.  If they wish to stay longer, a second 12-month visa may be granted, but only if the applicant has worked for three months in primary industry.

The second visa can lead to the holy grail of permanent residency in Australia. (While most backpackers are from the UK, Koreans come a close second.)

Mike Pope of Online Opinion claims that there are arrangements between farmers and hostel operators that take advantage of the conditions which apply to the working visa under which most backpackers come to Australia. Backpacker exploitation?

The problem is that there are more backpackers than regional primary industry jobs available.

Mike says that backpacker hostels make “arrangements with local farmers to be the sole supplier of labour to their farm. Backpackers are rarely able to secure employment from other sources since hostels tend to corner the market. They must therefore stay at a hostel to gain employment.

“Those using this as a strategy to attract backpackers to stay at their hostel are able to price the accommodation they offer more highly than they otherwise might do. They can and often do sleep six or more backpackers to a room and charge them as much as $20 each per night for the privilege.

Mike claims that it is not only hostels which take advantage of backpackers in this way. Some farmers hire hostel-provided workers under absolute minimum conditions.

“Fruit and vegetable picking is often undertaken in hot conditions in relatively remote open fields. The farmer may provide a shade area, toilet facilities and drinking water. Many do not. Any complaint can be (and is) met with an invitation to find work elsewhere.” (See Union asks for ban on foreign students in trade jobs)

I’ll tell you the moral of this story: the dream of permanent residency combined with  a lack of rights opens the way for exploitation.

Yes, backpackers are marginalised migrants.


October 6, 2009

An “inevitable cycle of bloodshed and multicultural street festivals”

Friend A: “I like Adelaide better than Melbourne. When you walk around some parts of Melbourne you don’t even feel like you are in Australia, with the mosques everywhere. I think the government is letting in too many people who are different to us.”

Friend B “We are peaceful and hard working. Not like a lot of the other groups.”

The first quote is from a conversation I had during last weekend’s Moon Festival (in Adelaide!)  with Friend A who migrated some years ago from China.

Friend B is an Afghan Muslim immigrant. From a conversation during Eid. (See What has religion to do with belonging and diversity?)

As Ben Pobjie recently summed it up on New Matilda:

“Do we want to accept any old hoodlum without regard to the havoc they will wreak upon our well-ordered life? Do we really want to precipitate the inevitable cycle of bloodshed and multicultural street festivals that will surely follow any moves to make citizenship laws less discriminatory?

“How hard should it be to be an Australian? “Very very hard”? “A little bit harder than that”? Or “Impossible”? It’s a difficult question for any patriotic citizen.”

August 7, 2009

Remove your hat! It’s the immigration department!

Filed under: citizenship,racism,Uncategorized — Nayano @ 10:18 am
Tags: , , ,

The Sydney Daily Telegraph reports that a female bus passenger was at first denied, and then delayed from boarding while wearing the niqab (a veil that fully covered her face). The driver is alleged to have asked the passenger to take off her “mask” because it was “against the law to wear it on board”. The passenger argued that she was not wearing a “mask” Bus firm accused of thinly-veiled racism

She eventually won the argument and was able to travel.

Blogger Jonathan Ariel at Online Opinion says that, if it is not actually against the law to wear a niqab, ‘it should be’ Veiled threat: separating mosque from mass transit

Ariel argues that bus passes and other photo ID would be rendered useless if the niqab could not be removed for identification purposes.

There is also the question of banks and other premises that ask that headgear that conceals the face, like helmets, be removed.

There is no question for the Department of Immigration – if you want an Australian passport your face must be clearly visible in the photo. Nothing worn on the head is allowed:

No hat, cap, or sunglasses on the head allowed

No hat, cap, or sunglasses on the head allowed

But for religious reasons head coverings are allowed, with provisos:Photo does not show face edgesPhoto with face covered

Allowed Islamic head covering

It may well have been that the niqab just made the driver uncomfortable – or that the driver just doesn’t like Islamic clothing – but in general it is not racist to require anyone to mnake themselves identifiable when there is a legitimate need.

January 22, 2009

Citizens get better pets, clothes

Filed under: citizenship — Nayano @ 1:48 pm
Tags: ,

Now, if you become a Citizen, you can:

Buy special clothing!
Upgrade to a house!

And, coming soon:

Pet upgrades!

Even in virtual worlds citizens get all the breaks.

CitizenFor more fun go to Playing games with people’s lives

January 17, 2009

2nd & 3rd class citizenship in Canada and the UK

Filed under: citizenship — Nayano @ 11:42 am
Tags: ,

In Australia we used to have two grades of refugees. Refugees who were selected overseas by UNHCR and Australian immigration officials arrived in Australia with automatic Permanent Protection Visas. Refugees who arrived in Australia first and then asked immigration to determine if they were refugees were given second class refugee status, the Temporary Protection Visa. 

The Rudd government got rid of this refugee underclass designation, bless their little cotton socks. (But we still have second class residents – the so-called temporary workers

But the UK government has dreamt up another way to legislate class – they are proposing three classes of citizens!

I first read about this at the diary of a geek in Oxfordshire. 

I thought it was spoof. Here’s a quote:

“Assimilation into British Culture is also a necessity for new immigrants. They should understand, and be actively involved in, the activities which shape us as a nation and as communities. New arrivals will, therefore, be expected to follow the England football team, with bonus points given in the assessment process for off-pitch violence or racist chants.”

(Eerily reminiscent of Howard’s demand that immigrants know the name of Australian cricketers to pass their ‘citizenship tests’).

But then I read the report on the BBC and found that the actual proposed conditions were almost as funny, as well as disturbing: “At first (immigrants) will be classed as temporary residents – the status they receive as a worker, relative or recognised refugee. After five years they will be given an entirely new status for a minimum of another 12 months – probationary citizen. This probationary status will ultimately lead to someone becoming a British citizen or permanent foreign resident – or being told it’s time to move on.

They will have to prove that they are actively taking steps to fit in … They will have to show that not only have they made some effort to learn English – but they are making progress.

They will have to obey the law and where possible prove they are “active citizens”. Active citizenship is nebulous. Assessors will be looking for proof that someone is more than just a taxpayer – and the more “active” they are in the local community the quicker their journey to citizenship will become.

Acceptable activities could include voluntary work, involvement in local groups or the school parent-teacher association. Migrants will need to find referees to vouch for these good deeds.” 

(This blog also offers games to play with people’s lives.)

Meanwhile, Canada is joining in the citizenship ratings game, proposing a two tier citizenship, with children born to or adopted by Canadians outside the country prevented from passing citizenship on to their children if they also are born abroad.

But if you have no ties to Canada at all, and want your baby to have Canadian citizenship, just make sure that you give birth to it in Canadian airspace

January 3, 2009

Are babies citizens?

Filed under: citizenship — Nayano @ 7:22 pm
Tags: , ,

baby born on plane given Canadian citizenship

Just to illustrate how capricious the citizenship business is, this item January 3, 2009 – a Ugandan mother, on a flight from Amsterdam to Boston, now has a daughter who is  considered a Canadian citizen because she was born in Canadian airspace. A Chinese 457 visa holder who had lived in Australia since 2005 also gave birth to a little girl last month, but the Australian government considers the child to be Chinese – and also stated that the baby could remain provided the sponsoring employer agreed that she could be added as a dependent!

Nayano Taylor-Neumann

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