Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Immigration Conundrum

There is nothing quite so absurd as seeing the Liberal Party, supposedly the party of free markets and economic rationalism, waging a new campaign against refugees, and indeed migrants in any form.

When you sign up to these economic theories one of the first things you learn to do is to treat labour as simply an input in production processes, not as a derivative of human body, mind and spirit. Pretty soon you learn that efficiency is maximised by high labour mobility so that labour can find a market for its consumption, and producers can find labour for their activities. So the economic rationalist favours migration.

A complaint about migration is all the more bizarre coming from Kevin Andrews, the man who bought you WorkChoices. Remember that, a legislative program designed to make sure real workers were treated exactly the way the theory says they should be.

The fascinating thing is, of course, that really the Liberals ran a real scam of maintaining high levels of immigration to access mobile worjkers. However they hid it behind education programs, but the secret kept from Australians but known to everyone else was that once here on a student visa it was virtually guaranteed that it would be converted to permanent residency. (As one commentator said, "These courses are sold by agents operating throughout Asia, openly selling permanent residency, not education. The standard commission paid to them is 15 per cent, but lately some of the newer Chinese and Indian-owned colleges have been paying up to 40 per cent commission.")

Now the Government is tightening up on things the education providers are getting squeezed. While we should probably not care, this has its own flow on effects. Poorly run colleges that suddenly close drain overseas confidence in the whole sector.

But all those taxi drivers that can't talk English that the Australian Transport Council (Ministers from the States, Territories and Commonwealth) just pontificaed about - probably students.

But if you want to talk about queue jumping - especially for the so-called "economic refugee" surely it was the education scam that was the easiest way to do it.

Which just might mean that there is an increased flow of boat borne refugess arriving, but not because the rules on what happens to boat arrivals were weakened but because the rules on education visas and skills lists were tightened.

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