Isn’t it ironic that we are lectured to about Australian values by a government full of migrants and their immediate descendants.
That is the reality of modern-day Australia. The 2016 census showed that nearly half (49 per cent) of Australians had either been born overseas (first generation Australian) or one or both parents had been born overseas (second generation Australian).
We are made up of the descendants of the oldest continuous civilisation in the world who arrived tens of thousands of years ago, convicts and soldiers from Great Britain who arrived over 200 years ago, the Afghans, Chinese and Kanakas whose labour helped build the nation during the 1800s, the successive waves of migrants from war-torn countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, skilled migrants seeking a better life, refugees fleeing oppression and, our most numerous migrant cohort, poms and kiwis.
From the 2016 census:
|Country of Birth (top 5)|
|1.||Australia – 66.7% (15,615,531)|
|2.||England – 3.9% (907,570)|
|3.||New Zealand – 2.2% (518,466)|
|4.||China – 2.2% (509,555)|
|5.||India – 1.9% (455,389)|
The census also showed, of the 6,163,667 people born overseas, nearly one in five (18 per cent) had arrived since the start of 2012. The majority of those who migrate permanently are skilled workers. Of the 183,608 places granted in 2016-17, 123,567 places were delivered in the Skill stream.
This has advantages for the country in that we gain young skilled workers without having to pay for their education. It also helps to counter the natural aging of the population.
And whilst I agree that a level of proficiency in the English language is necessary to participate successfully in our society, there are also advantages to becoming more linguistically diverse.
On the flip side, it seems apparent that jobs are going to migrants that could be filled by unemployed Australians.
The government updated the list of skilled visa occupations from July 1, 2017 to, according to Peter Dutton, “reflect genuine skill needs in the labour market”.
Looking through the very long list, it is hard to believe that we can’t find Australian citizens who want to be bricklayers or panel beaters or fitter and turners.
Surely, if there are shortages, we should be training our own teachers and nurses and mechanics and social workers.
In Western Australia, Premier Mark McGowan slashed the number of occupations on the state skilled migration list from 178 to 18.
Among those removed from the list, which fast tracks overseas workers into the state, are various types of engineers, which were in massive demand during the mining boom.
Bricklayers, electricians, refrigeration mechanics, teachers, cafe managers, psychologists and others are also off the list, following widespread consultation, Mr McGowan said.
The only occupations left are medical professionals, including GPs and some specialist doctors and nurses.
One of the problems here is that, whilst we have university places for plenty of doctors, we don’t have sufficient internships and registrar positions for them to complete their qualifications.
Another area that needs urgent attention is aged care. There are no regulations about staff to patient ratio or how the money that the government gives them is spent. Qualified nursing staff are few and far between and are asked to cope with a ridiculous number of residents.
The NDIS is also going to dramatically increase the need for workers in many areas – transport, cleaners, therapists, respite carers, gardeners, community nurses to name a few.
ACAT also now provides similar packages to help over 65s stay in their homes for longer.
We should be training people and hooking them up with positions in these crucial areas rather than having to import people to fill these urgent and foreseeable gaps.
If, instead of paying middlemen like private Job Search providers and labour hire firms, we reinstated the Commonwealth Employment Service, it could advise the government of areas of need so they could co-ordinate education, skills training and immigration as well as linking people up with jobs.
I have previously suggested some form of government organised travelling workforce that could be transported to temporary jobs like crop-picking or disaster clean-up or wherever they may be needed dependent on their different abilities. But this should be correctly paid employment and should not hinder participants eligibility for unemployment benefits when the temporary work ceases and should only be used in those places where employers cannot find locals to work. It also must be a job that is offered, not an obligation – not everyone can just pack up and go.
My point in all this is that, apart from the few of us whose ancestors walked here, we are all very recent arrivals. We do amazingly well in this melting pot made up of people from all over the world.
I do understand that some people are struggling economically and scared about insecure or non-existent employment. There are ways we can do better at addressing that. I don’t have answers but I do have ideas. I am sure we all do. But hating on each other is sure as hell not going to make things better.
As for Australian values, they are no different to any decent person’s values – respect, integrity, honesty, tolerance, kindness, and help for those who may need it.
We can work constructively together to find solutions to our problems. Don’t let politicians exploit our differences for their own political gain.
Particularly this one.
But red-headed racists are welcome. Please explain?