POST 30: THE MORRISON GOVERNMENT’S EXTRAVAGANT NEW PROVISIONS FOR TEMPORARY FOREIGN WORKERS.

.Introduction.

.The Wuhan virus continues to cause massive unemployment problems for Australian citizens. In light of this it is surprising the Federal Government is taking a flexible approach to Temporary visa working conditions. They have just announced new measures allowing Temporary visas to stay in Australia for longer than their initial visa conditions.

.

Working Holiday Makers Visas extended.

.Due to the coronavirus, Working Holiday Makers (WHMs) will be exempt from work limitations and are eligible to access a new visa to keep working in a range of industries. Before the coronavirus, WHMs could work for the full duration of their 12-month stay.[1] To bypass this the Federal Government has created a new visa option. The COVID-19 Pandemic event visa (subclass 408) is available to WHMs.

.

This visa will allow WHMs to remain lawfully in Australia, and continue working, should they wish to do so.[2] The Pandemic event visa significantly increases the time WHMs may live and work in Australia changing from 12 months to 4 years.[3] This new visa will enable WHMs to live in Australia and work in different sectors. This is an extravagant visa option created by The Federal Government for foreign workers. The COVID-19 Pandemic event visa is free of charge (the Australian taxpayer is footing the bill).[4] Further, this visa allows travel to and from Australia unrestricted.

.

Population Research is very concerned that this will create a significant reserve of foreign workers in direct opposition to the growing number of Australian’s made unemployed in recent weeks. The considerable extensions applied for living and working in Australia that come with the new COVID visa and offer of work in various sectors, suggest the visa will attract significant demand. The Australian WHMs program is a bilateral arrangement with 44 partner countries and regions from across the world.[5] The most recent data shows there was 141,142 WHMs in Australia as at 31 December 2019).

.

Foreign students’ work hours move from restricted to unlimited.

.Of interest are the Government’s very generous employment provisions afforded to foreign students. In terms of the number of students able to access the additional employment hours, as at 29 March 2020 there was 568,605 student visa holders in Australia (see Table 1 below).[6]

Other visa statistics for foreign students indicate there are some key reasons why so many choose Australia as a country for study. Namely Australia’s significant number of visa categories enabling a pathway process for students to move from one visa to another. For example, in the previous 2 years 164,600 students have applied for and been granted a different visa subclass where the last visa held was a student visa.[7] These visa pathways allow foreign students to live and work in Australia for very long periods and seek out permanent residency.

Most of the countries from which many foreign students arrive are either underdeveloped or developing nations in the Asia pacific region (see Table 1 below). Therefore, a driving factor, which makes Australia a very attractive destination, is their First world living conditions and much higher wages/employment conditions. The World Bank demonstrates this through their World Development Indicators. In 2017, Australia’s adjusted net national income per capita was ($US 41,500) whereas India’s was ($US 1,678). This is remarkable, Australia’s per capita income is nearly 25 times that of India’s.[8]

.

Table 1: Country of citizenship of student visa holders on 29 March 2020.

.

(Source: Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment.[9])

.

Because of the coronavirus the Morrison Government is taking a flexible approach to student visa conditions where COVID-19 restrictions prevent conditions being met.[10] In summary the limitation on foreign student’s work hours has been changed from restricted to unlimited work hours. Foreign students will be able to work unlimited hours in a variety of industries.[11]

.

Conclusion.

.Adding both Temporary WHMs and student visa categories together and assuming the WHMs visas recorded in 31 December 2019 are still in the country. The Morrison Government has provided open-handed new working provisions for 710,000 Temporary foreign workers. It is hard to gauge how these extravagant work provisions will impact on Australia’s labour market. In particular the competition for jobs with tens of thousands of Australian’s losing their jobs in the last few weeks and many of them lining the footpaths of Centrelink offices across the country. [12]

.

References.

.

  1. Australian Government Department of Home Affairs, ‘BR0110 Working Holiday Maker Visa Program Report 31 December 2019’, 2020 <https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/research-and-statistics/statistics/visa-statistics/visit> [accessed 11 April 2020].

  2. Australian Government Department of Home Affairs, ‘Staying in Australia | COVID-19 and the Border’, 2020 <https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/staying-australia#7> [accessed 10 April 2020].

  3. Australian Government Department of Home Affairs, ‘Temporary Activity Visa (Subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Events’, 2020 <https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/temporary-activity-408/australian-government-endorsed-events#Overview> [accessed 12 April 2020].

  4. Australian Government Department of Home Affairs, ‘Temporary Activity Visa (Subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Events’.

  5. Australian Government Department of Home Affairs, ‘BR0110 Working Holiday Maker Visa Program Report 31 December 2019’.

  6. Australian Government Department of Home Affairs, ‘BR0097 Student Visa and Temporary Graduate Visa Program Report at 31 December 2019’, 2020 <https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/research-and-statistics/statistics/visa-statistics/study> [accessed 10 April 2020].

  7. Australian Government Department of Home Affairs, ‘BR0097 Student Visa and Temporary Graduate Visa Program Report at 31 December 2019’.

  8. The World Bank, ‘World Development Indicators | DataBank’, 2020 <https://databank.worldbank.org/source/world-development-indicators#> [accessed 12 April 2020].

  9. Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment, ‘Research Snapshots’, 2020 <https://internationaleducation.gov.au/research/research-snapshots/pages/default.aspx> [accessed 25 February 2020].

  10. Australian Government Department of Home Affairs, ‘Staying in Australia | COVID-19 and the Border’.

  11. Australian Government Department of Home Affairs, ‘Staying in Australia | COVID-19 and the Border’.

  12. Rebecca Cassells, Alan Duncan, Mike Dockery, Daniel Kiely and Astghik Mavisakalyan, ‘Potential Job Losses in the COVID-19 Pandemic’, BCEC, 2020 <https://bcec.edu.au/publications/job-disruption-and-wage-replacement-in-the-covid19-pandemic/> [accessed 10 April 2020].

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: