Mining Companies & Labor Gov't bringing in foreign workers to undercut
For years, the Trots and their Anarchist
lambasted those who oppose immigration as racist and
Now, however, the Unions see that the livelihoods of
workers are being undermined by mass immigration of
workers to displace
The Trots & Anarchists have gone
strangely quiet on this issue. Green
Left Weekly has nothing to say about
it, but keeps welcoming
Labor Governments betray the working class, they in turn cease voting
We may be entering an era of mass struggle like the 1890s. The
will defend themselves against the Trotskyist traitors in their
(1) Mining Companies & Labor Gov't bringing in foreign workers
undercut Australian wages
(2) Australia's Foreign Minister Bob Carr
calls traditional Labor voters
(3) Julia Gillard endorses
immigration, condemns White Australia of
1950s, in address to Fabian Society
(1) Mining Companies & Labor Gov't bringing in foreign workers
undercut Australian wages
From: Peter Wilkinson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
of foreign workers strikes Australia again
Posted March 29, 2012
Importing workers for booming mining projects is backed by
Gina Rinehart and supported by government but is facing union
CHRIS UHLMANN, PRESENTER: The fear of cheap
imported workers driving
down wages is etched deep in Australia's psyche.
And the century-old
spectre is rising again, with the mining boom's
insatiable demand for
labour. The resource industry has now embraced
agreements that bring in semi-skilled migrants en masse
to staff mining
projects. And leading the charge is Australia's richest
Rinehart. The Government's a keen supporter of the plan, but as
reports, there's a rebellion brewing among unions amid allegations
the schemes are being rorted.
GREG HOY, REPORTER: In feeding
Asia's voracious appetite for steel a new
minefield is opening for
Australia's Iron Lady.
Gina Rinehart is digging in on what she says is
the number one problem
threatening major resource projects in Australia: an
acute labour shortage.
Her new Roy Hill iron ore project is now
negotiating with government
Australia's first enterprise migration
agreement, or EMA. Though details
are confidential, it's believed this would
bring in around 1,500
semi-skilled migrants such as scaffolders, riggers and
DAVE NOONAN, NATIONAL SECRETARY, CFMEU: These people
have showed that
they've got immense power, immense wealth and they're
prepared to go
publicly and attack governments where they disagree with
GREG HOY: It's true the Federal Government and mining associations
highly supportive of EMAs for mining investments worth $2 billion or
CHRIS BOWEN, IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP MINISTER: We need
migration agreements to cut red tape for very large resources
which'll have a very strong demand for labour. And the biggest risk
many of these projects proceeding is simply being able to assure people
that they will have the labour to do the job.
GEOFF BULL, AUST. MINES
AND METALS ASSN: There are a number of large
resource projects in WA, there
are a number of large resource projects
under construction in Queensland in
the LNG gas area, there a number of
expansions in the hard rock mining area
and they'll all be looking to
see whether the enterprise migration agreement
is something that they
GREG HOY: But critics are highly
BOB BIRRELL, POPULATION RESEARCH, MONASH UNI.: All of this is
in secrecy. Thousands of domestic workers are being precluded
gaining access to those jobs.
GREG HOY: Unions claim you're just
trying to please mining magnates, the
process is far too secretive and
Australians will miss out on those jobs?
CHRIS BOWEN: On the contrary,
enterprise migration agreements are
necessary to create jobs, because
without them, there's a real risk that
some large projects won't
DAVE NOONAN: There's not much evidence that investment in the
sector's being impeded. There are tens of the billions of dollars
invested in the mining sector right now.
GREG HOY: Gina
Rinehart has put her proposed solution to poetry. "The
globe is sadly
groaning with debt, poverty and strife, And billions now
are pleading to
enjoy a better life." And then further on, "Embrace
welcome short-term foreign workers to our shores,
To benefit from the export
of our minerals and ores."
DAVE NOONAN: Gina Rinehart's proposition is
that she wants to raise up
the poorer people in the developing world. Some
people may believe that.
GEOFF BULL: There's a huge cost in
bringing people from overseas and it
is a last resort. And in addition to
that, they must commit to training
GREG HOY: Critics
question the track record of commitments to train
Australians and have long
called for a central registry and job sites
for Australians who want to work
in the mines.
BOB BIRRELL: Over the past two years there's been no growth
employed construction workforce in Australia and a downturn in such
employment in the eastern states. There are now tens of thousands of
domestic workers who would like to get access to those mining industry
GREG HOY: But won't mining companies simply prefer to use migrants
workers with far less bargaining power?
CHRIS BOWEN: I would need to
be convinced that it is in a mining
company's interest to bring in workers
when there are Australian workers
DAVE NOONAN: That's done
under the current system by the company going
off and hiring a consultant to
tell them that there is a shortage of
local workers. And I hate to be
cynical, but quite frankly, consultants
will tell you anything that you
wanna hear if ya pay them enough.
GREG HOY: As for 457 visas for more
skilled migrants, employers are
required by immigration law to pay migrants
the same market rate as
Australians, though there are serious concerns this
can be easily rorted.
Large numbers of Chinese workers have been brought
in on 457 visas by
the giant Sino Iron project near Karratha in WA. Since
2010, unions have
complained they've been seriously underpaid in breach of
DAVE NOONAN: There are hundreds of workers from China working on
the rate that Australian workers doing the same work are on. Many of
those workers, we believe, are working in breach of their visas, they're
working in breach of 457 visas because they're working at semi-skilled
or unskilled work. The Immigration Department has received numerous
complaints about this and they have been derelict in their duty about
doing anything about it.
GREG HOY: Did you know about
CHRIS BOWEN: Look, I am aware of that and that is being
any breaches of the 457 or the Fair Work Act are taken very
But I'd make this point: we do build in protections, we do make
that there's hurdles that employers must cross in order to justify
skilled or semi-skilled migration and market rates must be paid.
HOY: Sino Iron says the project has been cleared by the Fair Work
which did in fact defer to the Immigration Department as to
had been paid at the market rate.
DAVE NOONAN: The Government needs to
stop just talk about standing up
for working Australians against the
interests of the big mining bosses
and do something practical about it and
enforce their own laws.
GREG HOY: Another example unions cite surrounds
the tragic death in a
maintenance accident last year at Dampier in WA of a
scaffolder, Sean McBride, who had been brought in to
Australia on a 457
DAVE NOONAN: A number of people working for
that company were brought
into Australia on the pretext of being project
administrators, but in
fact have been employed as scaffolders. That's
because they would not
have been able to get visas as scaffolders.
Immigration have been very
slow in actually investigating that
GREG HOY: Are you familiar with this case, minister?
BOWEN: Yes, I am, and again, there's a range of OHS requirements,
Australia requirements and Department of Immigration
requirements, and with
individual cases there'll be individual inquiries
and where action is
appropriate under any of the existing acts of
Parliament, then action will
GREG HOY: There are now well over 80,000 workers in Australia
457 visas and we are often reminded that they are only temporary.
reality, just how temporary will these temporary migrant workers
BOB BIRRELL: This is a very important point, and I would expect that
least half, if not more will subsequently stay on in Australia as
CHRIS BOWEN: Well, if a worker likes it in
Australia and their employer
likes them, there is capacity for them to apply
for permanent migration.
But market rates must be paid and there are other
costs for bringing in
overseas workers which the employer must pay which I
think means that
employers will always look very closely at trying to get
before they look offshore.
CHRIS UHLMANN: That report
from Greg Hoy.
(2) Australia's Foreign Minister Bob Carr calls
traditional Labor voters
Carr painted ALP faithful as racists, claims the Coalition
From: The Australian March 24, 2012 12:00AM
Coalition has accused Bob Carr of branding Labor's faithful
the new Foreign Minister said John Howard and Tony
Abbott were "pulling
levers about race to get generally working-class
supporters to respond to
their nasty little clarion calls".
"Yes, you've seen that. You saw that
for a time with John Howard and
... you see it from time to time with Tony
Abbott," Senator Carr said on
The Foreign Minister
was philosophising on the ABC's Lateline program
about the willingness of
conservative leaders to harness concerns about
issues to pull working-class
voters away from the liberal parties they
Senator Carr said a lot of things bad for America were
unleashed by the
Nixon presidency. "There were things about Nixon I liked -
to China - but I think a lot of genies came out of the bottle
was a tainting of the American system.
"I think a lot of
the politics of Nixon in rallying a white political
base against liberalism
opened some genies. I think it was bad for a
nation that I'm overwhelmingly
Coalition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison retorted
Senator Carr had betrayed Labor's true feelings about
concerned about Labor's border protection policies.
effectively calling them racists," Mr Morrison said.
"Before the last
election Julia Gillard tried to tell Australians that
was not what Labor
thought when she announced her failed East Timor plan
but now Labor's true
feelings have been exposed again," Mr Morrison said.
"It shows how
desperate and pathetic Labor excuses and defences have
become for their
failed border protection policies when Sideshow Bob
decends to this sort of
And the Opposition Leader described Senator Carr as a loose
criticised him over his concerns about large-scale immigration to
"Well, I think its very odd to find the Foreign Minister
skilled people shouldn't be coming into our country," Mr Abbott
"This is a government which can't stop the boats but wants to stop
"I think what we've seen over the last couple of weeks is
Minister who is liable to become a loose cannon in the Australian
Senator Carr said that because Mr Abbott blocked the Malaysian
Australia was left with "a half-baked, improvised, unwilling
"But we've got more people at risk at sea,
we've got a greater
temptation for people-smugglers to bring people into our
we've lot less chance of an orderly handling of this
Senator Carr also said he'd counselled Israel not to take
action against Iran's nuclear program.
"I said that to the
Israeli Foreign Minister when I spoke to him last
week. We think it'd be a
perilous course of action for Israel. In other
words, let's adhere to the
(3) Julia Gillard endorses immigration, condemns White
1950s, in address to Fabian Society (2006)
Fabian Society Forum
John Howard: 10 Years On
Address by Julia
Sydney, Wednesday 22 March
Tonight we do have to answer an important
question. What explains the
Howard decade of success and what will cause him
to fail? Answering this
question requires us to be clear eyed, at our most
analytical. Much of
the conventional progressive analysis of Howard and his
lacked clarity. It was hoped if we derided John Howard as a
back, Australia would reject him. It was hoped if people woke up
use of the politics of fear, Howard would fail. It was hoped if
was derided as divisive, that he would be repudiated. But these
strategies have failed. Our analysis needs to drive deeper and that is
our task tonight.
To say John Howard wants to turn
the clock back to the 1950s is to
misunderstand him and to underestimate the
damage he has done.
Stultifying as many found the fifties to be, it was a
Australia began to embrace the vibrancy the wider world had to
Record numbers of immigrants enhanced the complexity of our cultural
Work started on the Sydney Opera House, with its radical – even
revolutionary design. It was a decade of public works projects embodied
in the Snowy Mountains Scheme, and a decade of militancy from organised
labour. And it was the decade when Australians rejected cold war fear-
mongering and refused to ban the Communist Party.
This is not John
Howard’s 1950s is a two-dimensional vision, as
as a child’s picture book, of the white knights of
businessmen battling Howard’s childhood bogeymen – unions and
John Howard is busy harming Australian workers as
he fights the
ideological battles that occupied the toy soldiers of his
Certainly, John Howard hankers for the mono-cultural world he
of white picket fences shielding white families. But he is too
believe he can recreate this Australia.
However, he is smart
enough to understand the political potency of this
image, this stylised
representation of security and simplicity, for
change weary, anxious
I suspect John Howard pursues the culture wars with such
he it enables him to parade this image again and again with
his name up
in lights next to it.
Fear and Division
Howard once famously said the times would suit him.
He has left his mark on our times and our times have left their
Today’s John Howard is not the error prone Prime
Minister who in his
shaky first term lost 7 Ministers in various scandals,
Hanson flamed across the political sky, stirring up simmering
resentments about race and welfare recipients.
Indeed, John Howard
went close to being a one term wonder with his
competence in question and
division on his right.
Today’s John Howard is not the same John Howard
who spent the first half
of 2001 clawing back after the Shane Stone ‘mean
and tricky’ memo.
Today’s John Howard has learned the lessons of these
And today’s John Howard has gained the advantage given to
when the world is plunged into insecurity.
spectacular degeneration of the global security environment gave
something more than other incumbents.
First, it increased the number of
trump cards in his strong suit of fear
and division. Secondly, it allowed
John Howard to portray himself as a
‘father figure’, above and beyond
politics, as he led the nation in
mourning at the time of the Bali bombing
due to the weakness of Peter
Hollingworth as Governor-General.
has been a potent mix and it has been no answer for us to chant
In an age of fever pitch change in everything from the economy
technology to cultural composition and norms, in a world of terrorism, a
hankering for simplicity and certainty, a clutching for family and
friends and a tendency to fear are all understandable.
progressive forces have sometimes derided the fear of change
Neither reaction is right.
Our world will continue to
change. But unlike John Howard’s simple white
picket fence imagery and
tendency to tap the well of fear, Labor can
offer a vision of the future
that embraces change but moderates its
harsher and most destabilizing
impacts. A vision of the future based on
values that endure, despite
Fighting on Values
To end the Howard Government, we have
to understand the reasons for its
success to date and the underlying
attitudes of our community.
Then we have to stand and fight for our
values. We cannot shy away from
the so-called “culture wars” out of fear of
being “wedged” by right-wing
caricatures of Labor values.
fighting for our values, we have to expose the true values of the
Government, the values it lives by as opposed to the values it
At his recent Australia day address Howard declared the
what he called “the common values that bind us together as one
that provide “social cohesion”.
Among those values he listed
“a spirit of egalitarianism that embraces
tolerance, fair play and
compassion for those in need” and “respect for
the rule of law”. He also
spoke of the importance of all Australians
being part of the mainstream of
our national life.
Yet in breathtaking irony, that very praise of
tolerance and cohesion
was framed as a corrective to too much “ethnic
My first thought was, how dare he? How dare he imply that not
Anglo-Saxon casts doubt on an Australian’s respect for the rule of law
or compassion for those in need? How dare he take the great Australian
value of a fair go and twist it to serve his rhetoric of
How dare he?
He dares because the decade he has been in
power has been a decade in
which the values John Howard praises, the values
his simple imagery
invokes, have been uncoupled from the policies he puts in
How else could a Prime Minister who has presided over a widening
between rich and poor praise egalitarianism?
How else could he
talk of the importance of respect for the rule of law
from the middle of the
How else could he talk of compassion after his then
Minister, Phillip Ruddock, referred to a child suffering
disintegration in detention as “it”?
How else could he
talk of fair play while watching basic health and
dental care slide further
and further out of reach for needy Australian
families? And when
breadwinners can be sacked for no reason, all working
families are at risk
of being in need.
And how else could John Howard talk of the importance
of social cohesion
and participation in the mainstream when his government’s
participation a pipe-dream for many Australians?
is a huge gap between the values John Howard claims and the values
government’s policies demonstrate. Values aren’t something you put
badge and pin on your lapel. Nor something you put on a sign that
the lectern from which you deliver your speeches.
We show our values in
our actions. And the gap between Howard’s claimed
values and his values in
action is a chasm.
The chasm shows in the Howard Government’s Medicare
Safety net. The
rhetoric was “Strengthening Medicare”, delivered through the
multi-million dollar campaign design to convince us
that John Howard
cared about a universal health system.
was meant to help people struggling with their out of pocket
costs, people who have high health care needs, people with a
who need to access care on an ongoing basis.
But the reality is a very
stark contrast. The policy has fuelled heath
inflation, particularly in the
areas of obstetrics, which accounts for
almost 40 per cent of the Medicare
safety net expenditure.
And the safety net has provided very cushy
comfort for those with better
health outcomes and higher incomes who are
getting greater access to the
safety net rebates. Just ask Malcolm Turnbull,
Brendan Nelson and Joe
Hockey – not to mention Tony Abbott’s own
constituents, who have raked
in millions of dollars of safety net payments
while the poorest have
So while the rhetoric was designed
to placate the electorate’s concern
about the erosion of Medicare, the
reality is that the majority of
safety net rebates are going to the worried
well, the well paid one-off
health consumer, not the middle or lower income
sufferer, trying to manage their diabetes, or asthma, or
The values that support John Howard’s
so-called safety net are values of
unfairness, division and
The Howard Government rhetoric on health has set up a fake
between the public health system and the private health system when
country needs both. In undermining our public health system, he
undermines the idea that there are some institutions in society which
are important to each of us and about which we all care. Every policy
aimed at splitting Australians into ever smaller groups, sharing neither
hospitals nor social services, is a policy that weakens our community
and our nation.
Where is the egalitarianism, the social cohesion, in
I am angry at John Howard’s hijacking of the Australian values that
at the heart of the labour movement, the values that have shaped my life
and my work.
But I am heartened by the fact that, wily politician as
he is, Howard
feels the need to disguise his real preoccupations with terms
“egalitarian”, “fair play”, “compassion” and “tolerance”. A decade of
effort, and John Howard and his government have not managed to eradicate
the fundamental fairness in the Australian character. The fair go is
still at the heart of who we are.
Wrapping himself in a rhetorical
flag is a useful weapon for the Prime
Minister. It lets him caricature his
opponents as unAustralian. And for
those of us who live in the sound-bite
news-cycle, it makes it seem
safer to play a dead bat on the culture
But we in the labour movement we can and will win
by putting our
nation’s common values at the centre of the political debate.
Howard talks of Australian values to disguise his real priorities. For
Labor, Australian values are our priorities.
Since the labour
movement and the Labor Party were born in Australia, we
have known that
while Australia’s fair-go, fair-play spirit was hardy
and resilient, it
flourished best when Australians have governments
determined to put those
values into policy practice. That commitment
must be complete: switching
those values on and off for electoral
convenience, as John Howard does, is
nothing more than hollow mockery.
That is why Labor will go to the next
election wearing our commitment
and our values on our sleeve. … Fair play at
work, and an end to John
Howard’s extreme workplace legislation.
Support for a fair and independent media, rather than the Howard
Government’s attacks on the ABC.
… A high participation, high
productivity economy that rewards skills
and hard work and allows no-one to
be left to languish.
… Making sure all Australians get a fair go,
harassment and barriers to opportunity.
Foreign policy that respects international law and protects
… Polices based on how Australian families really live and
including dealing with ‘modernity’s paradox’, which describes
reality that our children are facing a growing array of chronic
illnesses like asthma, diabetes, obesity, intellectual disabilities,
depression and eating disorders — despite all of the medical advances
and our economic prosperity.
… And making sure that our great
universal public services — like
Medicare and public hospitals — are not
side-lined as residual ripped
safety-nets but remain the high-quality
backbone of egalitarian, fair-go
Australia. Over the coming months, Labor
will go on fighting as hard as
we can to make sure that we are celebrating
anniversaries of John
Howard’s defeat just as soon as possible. Let’s
relegate the task of
analysing John Howard to historians.
I am sure
that those of you here tonight who share my belief in the
of an Australian government guided, not just cloaked,
by our common
Australian values, will be part of that battle.