Migration Solutions, CEO, Mark Glazbrook interviewed at ABC Radio News,

Friday 3rd May, 2019


Australia Immigration agency defends deal that allows migrants to be paid below national threshold

An Australia immigration agency is defending a deal that allows migrants to be paid below the national threshold, if they come to South Australian regions.  A Parliamentary committee revealed yesterday that skilled migrants going to country parts of the State could be paid up to ten percent less than the national standards.

Migration Solutions, CEO, Mark Glazbrook isn’t concerned because he says the arrangement simply reflects the lower cost of living regional SA. He says the national standard, which is more than $53,000 is too much for many regional employers:

(ABC RADIO ADELAIDE 2pm & ABC NORTH & WEST 2pm) “Where the minimum salary level for a position is currently below that $53,900 they can’t access the migration program.  Where that salary level is reduced to the prevailing market salary rates for different occupations, it will then allow employers to look at international workers as a way to address our net demand for labour.”

Opposition Leader, Peter Malinauskas says it’s not on:

(5AA 2pm) “By having a migrant worker come out to Australia under this agreement they will get paid 10% less than another migrant worker. We believe in the concept of same job same it should pay and if the government had been transparent about this from the get go I think everyone would be in a far better place to make a succinct policy assessment.”

Skills Minister, David Pisoni says there’s no rush:

(5AA 3pm) “The program doesn’t start ‘til the 1st of July. We’re going through the process of consulting with, with industry. We want to get this right, there is no hurry to do this, and another point that needs to be made here is that you cannot bring in a migrant worker into South Australia unless you’ve advertised Australia-wide and you can’t find somebody to do that.”


Joanna Howell, Associate Professor in Law, University of Adelaide   (ABC NORTH & WEST 17.08-17.19)   Migrant visa deal

(Graham: … will people who are looking for work in regional South Australia be disadvantaged by a migrant via deal that has been struck between the South Australian and the Federal Government.  … the concerns coming out today about this scheme are primarily about wages that under this visa deal, migrant workers will be paid ten percent less.  Is that correct.)  look I think there is actually a lot of confusion going around Narelle, so the concern from Australian workers would be if migrant workers under this deal were allowed to come to Australia and earn ten percent than a local worker doing the same job.  So … a worker from Europe or Asia coming and working as a hairdresser and actually being paid ten percent less than an Australian worker also working as a hairdresser in a regional area and if that was the case, that would be actually quite absurd because it would knowingly create a two-tier labour market and allow migrants to be paid less than Australian workers.  It would mean employees would have a direct financial incentive to recruit migrants over locals.  But that’s not actually what’s happening here so the debate today is actually a little bit of a beat-up in my opinion … so this is sort of an artificial flaw from skilled migrants coming to Australia they have to earn above $53,900 on the skilled visa system and quite rightly SA regional employers have said look, regional wage rates in South Australia are much lower than they are for say … the metropolitan cities on the eastern seaboard like Sydney and Melbourne so you would expect a hairdresser in Sydney or Melbourne to earn more than they would perhaps in regional South Australia and that’s why we need a ten percent concession so the ten percent concession under the DAMA … isn’t about paying migrants less than local workers doing the same job in the same region, it’s actually … a fairly intelligent and strategic and appropriate way of recognising that we don’t have this same wage rate for every job across Australia that these things are regionally nuanced.  (Graham: … does South Australia need a special visa deal?)  … those of us who live in South Australia know that sustainable population growth is really important to our economy and the regions in particular are crying out for that … a lot of these towns are in desperate need of people to come into them and to create jobs and we know the research shows that migration actually creates jobs for locals.  … I think a real deficiency in the current plan though … is that the DAMA doesn’t create pathways for permanent residency and what South Australia really needs is permanent residents … then there needs to be a pathway that if those migrants are really working well in South Australia and it’s meeting a labour market need and community need, then there should be a pathway for them to be able to stay in South Australia and keep building our great state … (Graham: … I also want to let people know that when you refer to a DAMA you are talking about a Designated Area Migration Agreement, which basically means that a special deal has been done for South Australia and also for a few other states.)

Carla Wilshire, CEO Migration Council of Australia   (ABC NORTH & WEST 17.12-17.16)   Migrant visa deal

(Graham: … how do wages work for migrants on these visas because we’ve heard Joanna talk there about the fact that workers who work in regional areas get paid less than people in Sydney and Melbourne and so migrant workers would still just be attracting a similar wage to people who are already employed in a regional area.  Surely anyone working in Australia gets the award wage.)  Not quite and Joanna is right, what we have is a threshold wage and to be able to operate in terms of bringing in people on a temporary work visa.  One of the things that you have to do is you need a threshold wage and that … is currently set at $53,900.  And that’s been set at that level since 2013.  So what this would be is essentially a drop on that level.  … it depends very much on what the wage level in the regional area is.  If it drops below local wages, I think that would be a concern.  But I think the other concern would be more around … are you going to attract someone who is able to support a family and able to bring up a family within a regional area and then I think the other point is the point that Joanna picks up on and I think it’s the most fundamental point of this, is in changing the age profile and the English language level and attracting perhaps more singles rather than families.  What do you is you get essentially a cohort that aren’t going to permanently settle.  And that doesn’t do much in terms of regional population or in terms of renewal of towns.  (Graham: Is there a concern that some migrants coming to Australia, so under the DAMA might be paid ten percent less than people, migrants who are coming to work on visas and end up being somewhere else.)  … so even under the DAMA it still applies to a specific locality.  (Graham: I’m so sorry we are talking at the same time and I’m sorry Carla we are at an outside broadcast so this is difficult, please start again.) Sorry so what I was saying is that it is tied to the locality but I think one of the questions that comes down to is what level of research has been done around local wages and conditions and will this place downward pressure and I think that’s an important point of the Government to be able to answer.  (Graham: Are you happy with the level of detail that you have at the moment on how these DAMAs will work … for South Australia.)  … I think one of the things that’s happened over time is there has been less and less that’s been put out around migration agreements and more broadly transparency in the migration program.  And what’s really important about transparency is not just from a researcher perspective and from the capacity to be able to analyse our policy trends and what’s happening, it’s also about public confidence in the migration program and what sits at the heart of what makes migration work is it has to have community trust and confidence.

Back to Joanna Howell

(Graham: … I heard an interview that Paul Culliver did today with South Australia Shadow Minister for Employment, Stephen Mullighan … he quoted some figures … would you say under this designated area migration agreement, people who are looking for work in regional South Australia, would they be disadvantaged by this visa deal.) I don’t actually think so because those regional towns, they have an entrenched unemployment … youth unemployment or particular sectors of the local community area unemployed and there are jobs available, employers in those regional towns, we’ve done research there, they are advertising and they cannot get the workers that they need.  I think to just quote those statistics and then to say … this DAMA will hurt local jobs, that’s actually incorrect and I think Carla makes a really good point that we need public confidence in the system and the way that we do that is through greater transparency … politicians get around and say … migrants are stealing local jobs, migrants are getting paid less than Australian workers, part of this, the onus lies on the Australia Government to release more information publicly and I do note that the Labor Party last week and their skilled migration policy announcement at the federal level, they announced the creation of a new Australian skills authority if they get elected, that will introduce independent labour market testing which will create an evidenced based way to say, well these are the occupations that are in need in Port Pirie … (Graham: … we know there’s going to be 117 occupations on this but we don’t know what they are, not that we would have the time to go through all 117 anyway … but those people that come here with skills, that’s the base amount that they can get, is $48,510 that would be the minimum is that right Joanna?) That’s correct, so once, that creates the salary floor … this is the skilled migration and it often gets mixed up Narelle with low skilled migration, we don’t have direct pathways, we have international students and backpackers filling in labour market needs … in some of these regional areas it’s low skilled vacancies they just aren’t being met by the local workforce because they don’t want to do those kinds of jobs.



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