Australia’s migration policy must be based on the national interest – not sold to the highest bidder.

Selling visas to the highest bidder would effectively remove important national considerations, such as the rights of Australians to access jobs and training opportunities and the need to address genuine skills shortages, as the basis for determining migrant intakes.

In its submission the Productivity Commission Inquiry into the Migrant Intake into Australia, the ACTU rejects proposals to use entry charges and capacity to pay as the primary basis for determining migrant entry into Australia.

This would create a situation where only those rich enough to migrate are allowed entry into Australia.

Under such a proposal, Australia’s migration policy would fail to address skills shortages and those willing to pay the price could bypass requirements for employers to hire qualified Australians before hiring overseas workers.

Unions are particularly concerned by proposals to allow labour hire firms or employers to purchase permits on behalf of migrants.

This would leave migrant workers vulnerable to exploitation and trapped into paying large and regular salary deductions to pay off their loan, while the proposal to limit access to social support services will see these migrants treated as second class citizens.

The abuse of the temporary visa system and the exploitation of foreign workers is the subject of a Senate Inquiry currently underway – yet the Federal Government is now considering selling off visas to the highest bidder and opening up another avenue for exploitation to occur.

The ACTU submission argues that the government should favour permanent skilled migration over the use of temporary visas in order to address skills shortages, stop foreign workers being exploited and ensure that Australians have access to jobs and training opportunities.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

“Migration policy should be based on the national interest – not sold to the highest bidder.

“Selling off visas to the highest bidder will not deal with skills shortages or ensure than Australian workers have access to jobs and training opportunities.

“The government should be focussed on boosting permanent skilled migration and providing jobs and training opportunities for local workers – not creating a migration system that allows people to buy entry into Australia.

“We are already seeing rorting and exploitation of foreign workers under the temporary visa system and allowing employers to buy permits for overseas workers will only make this worse.”