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Labor’s Mixed Migration Message

6 May, 2020

Lead Moderator Peter Mares responds to Kristina Kenneally‘s recent article on the need to addresses Australia’s migration rules.

“In one sense, Kristina Keneally’s article in Sunday’s Age and Sydney Morning Herald is a timely reminder that Australia’s migration rules need to be reassessed — just as the pandemic should prompt a review of the tax system, welfare arrangements and our fragmented approach to housing and homelessness. I’m among those who have long argued that Australia has undergone a “permanent shift to temporary migration” without much parliamentary scrutiny or public buy-in, and this is a good time to take a close look at that trend.”

However, says Peter, Labor can’t claim to be encouraging a reasoned discussion about a sensitive and divisive topic while framing the issue in simplistic, binary terms. 

In this article Peter breaks down the headline figure of “2.1 million temporary visa holders”, a figure which later that day morphed in another article from 2.1 million temporary visa holders into 2.1 million foreign workers, into its constituent parts. Once that’s done the numbers are no longer so alarming, and it is much harder to conflate “temporary visa holders” with “foreign workers.”

He then explores three ways we could encourage Australians take up jobs in the sectors in which so many temporary visa holders are currently employed.

Inside Story, 6 May 2020. Read the full article here.

Photo by Belinda Fewings on Unsplash

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