Normally I don’t pay too much attention to press releases. They rarely provide much useful information and mostly try to avoid key parts of any issue because there are winners and losers with any policy reform.
However, I will make an exception to comment on the set of media releases accompanying the Budget from Minister Morrison’s office.
By far the most egregious example is “20 000 places for those most in need”. It opens:
Stopping the boats has enabled the Abbott Government to provide 20 000 extra places within the Special Humanitarian Program (SHP) of Australia’s humanitarian intake that will assist those most in need of resettlement, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon Scott Morrison, said today.
I think most people would read this and think, ‘Oh, the government is going to let an extra 20,000 people into the country’. Regardless if you think this is a good or bad idea, its fair to assume this is what is going to happen.
However, this is not what is going to happen. Not at all. Instead, 20,000 places over four years have been allocated from one type of visa to a different type of visa. The total number of people entering under Australia’s humanitarian program remains 13,750 for the foreseeable future, with no increase whatsoever.
This is in stark contrast to what occurred in 2012-13, where the ALP government actually did increase the number of people, to 20,000 per year. Instead of simply ignoring this difference, the Abbott government is attempting to lay credit for more people arriving when, in fact, less people are arriving.
This press release, and the politics behind it, embodies much of what is wrong with the debate of asylum policy in Australia.
Of less prominence is the media release outlining the Migration Program for 2014-15. For some reason, the author has decided to surprise the audience by including a piece about foreigners competing with locals for jobs:
With the reprioritisation towards employer-sponsored visas, employers will be assisted in finding workers to fill vital positions where they have been unable to find local workers. This also protects Australian workers, who will have less direct competition from independent migrants who arrive without a guaranteed job. (emphasis mine)
You would’ve thought the Coalition would be above such ‘foreigner fear mongering’, particularly as this is a complete load of bullshit. While I prefer employer-sponsored permanent visas, the independent category seeks to address long-term skill shortages. In the past decade, there have been some major issues with this visa category but they appear to have been mostly sorted out.
This seemingly throw away line from the MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION is petty politics at its worst. This type of language begs the question of why even have this category in the first place? Further, this will not be reported on by any publication given the rest of the Budget. The Migration Program number didn’t even make the Budget speech, something which has occurred for awhile. What is the point? Does the Minister actually believe this? It’s bizarre and low-brow.
Away from the press releases, there was little in the way of immigration in the Budget. Some fiddling at the margins for Family visas, already announced movements of people into and out of various visa categories and no change to the overall numbers of permanent resident visas.