Construction is a complex industry with many layers of responsibility, so where does the blame lie when things go wrong? Builders, if they’re still around, are the first port of call. But private certifiers or building surveyors say they’re often the ones unfairly accused of missing defects. Many in the industry say the rules just aren’t tough enough to enforce accountability or stop those cutting corners.
GEOFF HANMER, ARCHITECT: It’s almost incomprehensible but government has had an agenda to reduce regulation at a point where buildings have become more complex and probably require a higher standard of regulation.
Amid the widespread media gushing over ‘tiny homes’, it is nice to finally read an honest appraisal on why they are a retrograde solution for chronic housing policy failures:
Finally, an ingenious solution to a housing crisis that is sapping the quality of life of an entire generation: the humble van.
More than 21,000 Britonsapplied to the DVLA in the past year – a rise of almost two-thirds in two years – to convert their van into a home…
With your cosy cubby-hole on wheels, you can escape the tyranny of a private rental sector defined by rip-off rents and a lack of security and roam the British landscape, unshackled, free!…
Stop this – stop this immediately. This is yet another attempt to glamorise a national scandal, to dress up desperation at the inability of a wealthy society to provide one of the most basic needs of its citizens as kooky and fun.
Will historians look back at this as a wacky, innovative trend, or will they write: “In 2019, citizens of the country with the sixth-biggest economy were forced to transform vehicles into places to live because of the lack of affordable housing”?…
Here is a shockingly radical suggestion. Instead of cramming people into depressing, confined spaces, why don’t we provide quality housing people can afford?
Bravo. Finally somebody else ‘gets it’. Tiny homes are no genuine solution. They are merely caravans rebranded to make them sound romantic.
For generations caravan parks have been where Australia has housed its poorest and most vulnerable residents. They are effectively emergency accommodation that is one level above being homeless.
Mr Chau, 32, said he was leaving partly because of the political situation but also because Hong Kong’s high cost of living and weak economy was taking a toll.
“I think for the education, for the environment, for children growing up, Australia is a good place compared to Hong Kong,” Mr Chau said.
Territory’s economy stalling
Last week, Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam said she expected the city’s economy to slip into a technical recession in the third quarter because of the months of protests.
The anti-extradition law protests have morphed into wider calls for more political freedom from China, but also fuelling the fire is the growing gap between rich and poor and the most unaffordable home prices in the world.
Hong Kong-based, Australian-registered migration agent John Hu told the ABC he had seen a big rise in inquiries and sales since the protests began in June, with many people looking to get business or investor visas for Australia.
“We have enjoyed a significant increase in monthly sales; our sales have gone up four times,” he said.
“For enquiries, we are reaching about 1,000 a month and they are asking for different countries and of course Australia is on the top of the list.”
Mr Hu said his firm was processing hundreds of skilled migration visasand business migration visas for Australia.
Spike in interest in Australian property
Australia was the top destination for Hong Kong people emigrating last year, with about one third of emigrants — about 2,400 people — coming here.
Managing director of Sydney Sotheby’s International Realty, Michael Pallier, said his company had seen a 500 per cent increase in enquiries from Hong Kong compared to last year.
He said the new buyers were Hong Kong people who also had Australian citizenship, permanent residency or who were millionaire investors.
“The last two months we’ve seen a large spike in interest from people who are from Hong Kong,” he said.
“Before it was all mainland Chinese who were coming out. Now there are just as many enquiring from Hong Kong, and obviously with the instability a lot of people that are living in Hong Kong are thinking maybe long term it’s better to move to Australia.”
He sells high-end properties ranging from $3 million to $30 million with a lot of clients in the finance industry who want to move to wealthy areas in Sydney with elite private schools.
“It’s not only Hong Kong Chinese, there are just as many expats that are contacting us,” Mr Pallier said.
“One has already bought a house from us for just over $10 million, moving back to Australia.”
REA Group said searches on its property website from Hong Kong for Australian property had increased by one third from the same time last year with Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide the most popular cities.
Focus on top end of the market
Crown Group sales director Prisca Edwards said enquiries from Hong Kong were up 300 per cent and sales had increased by up to 30 per cent for the firm’s luxury apartments.
Ms Edwards said a wide range of Hongkongers were looking for local homes.
“Basically any mums or dads,” she said. “What we’ve seen is someone who has a link, maybe their children already studied here and went back to Hong Kong to work and came back just to see and look for property.”
“There are some young professionals who already have permanent residency, went back to Hong Kong and lived there … and now would like to buy in Sydney.”
*Georg Chmiel, chairman of Juwai, the biggest property website in the world for Chinese buyers, has seen the same trend, with interest in both high-end properties and the mass market.
“We have seen quite a notable increase in enquiries for Australian properties — up by 50 per cent since the protests have started,” he said.
Mr Chmiel said the ongoing political unrest was hurting confidence in Hong Kong.
“What has happened is the confidence has been shaken in the market and if the protests continue that will in the longer term impact the confidence in the Hong Kong property market,” he said.
However he said the increased interest from the Chinese territory was unlikely to have much impact on Australian home prices because Hong Kong buyers only made up about 1.5 per cent of total enquiries and purchases.
With Australia’s strict immigration laws and restrictions on foreign investment in property, Hong Kong people are also looking closer to home.
Who would have thought: the drought is driving people from the regions to the cities, the opposite of the federal government’s ‘migrants to the bush’ policy. From The SMH:
Leading regional economist, Terry Rawnsley, has warned fears about water could discourage Sydney residents from moving to regional towns at the same time as the economic effects of the drought force workers to depart country areas in search of opportunities…
“You’ve had political focus on getting more people into the regions but if people are thinking about moving to a regional town and they read the place is about to run out of water that might put questions in their mind”…
“People are drifting away from towns because the drought has weakened the economy but those who want to move away from Sydney are turned off because water is such a fundamental requirement”…
The water supply of some of the state’s biggest towns has been hit by drought including Armidale, Tamworth, Orange and Dubbo…
Armidale Regional Council says on present usage, water supply from the Malpas Dam will run out in November next year – dubbed “day-zero”.
Australia’s population is growing by around 400,000 people a year – roughly a Canberra. And this is projected to continue indefinitely:
Accordingly, Australia’s population is projected to increase by 17.5 million people over the next 48 years, driven entirely by net overseas migration (NOM):
Not surprisingly, Australia’s per capita water supply is projected to plunge – a situation that will worsen as Australia’s population balloons:
Remember, regional towns like Armidale, Tamworth, Orange and Dubbo are located far away from the ocean, meaning that water desalination is not available. This means that residents will be forced to locate in the coastal cities where desalination is available (albeit very expensive).
Water supply is clearly a major problem in the era of climate change. Flooding the world’s driest continent with tens-of-millions of additional people is policy lunacy.
CAAN: Macarthur where much of the housing development is taking place served by the Cataract Dam … now so low … its water supply is considered not suitable to drink!
Cataract Dam is so low its water supply is considered not suitable to drink. Picture: Simon Bennett; September 9 2019
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and NSW Transport minister Andrew Constance speak about whether stood-down sports minister John Sidoti had any input on where metro stations would be built.What to claim on your tax return
The Liberal member for Drummoyne has declared an interest through his family in properties at 120, 122 and 124 Great North Road and 2 Second Avenue at Five Dock, according to the latest register of interests.Advertisement
The proposed site of the Five Dock metro station announced on Monday lies within 100 metres of those properties linked to the Sidoti family, including one directly opposite the site.
Mr Sidoti, who was a parliamentary secretary for Transport between April and August 2015, and parliamentary secretary for planning between October 2014 and March 2015, has previously denied any allegations of wrongdoing.
Asked his reaction to the proposed site of the metro station at Five Dock being close to properties of which he has declared an interest, Mr Sidoti said he did not want to jeopardise the preliminary Independent Commission Against Corruption assessment of his property interests.
“I respect the process and I will not make any further comment until it is complete,” he said in a statement.
Most of the Sidoti-linked properties are owned by his parents Richard and Catherine, while NSW Parliament disclosures show 120 Great North Road was owned by a proprietary limited staff super fund, of which he has declared that he and his wife are no longer trustees.
Several properties linked to embattled government MP John Sidoti lie just metres from the proposed location for one of seven new metro train stations.CREDIT:SMH
However, the NSW Opposition labelled Mr Sidoti as the “big winner” from the metro line.
“The planned station at Five Dock is right on properties owned by Mr Sidoti and his family. These appear to have escaped compulsory property acquisitions but will attract significant uplift in value,” Labor said.
Opposition Leader Jodi McKay called for the Premier to stop paying Mr Sidoti’s ministerial wage while he sat on the sidelines. “It’s time to end this farce. Mr Sidoti’s ministerial salary must be terminated,” she said.
But Ms Berejiklian said decisions about the metro line had been made by experts at the state’s transport agency, which had presented a case to government for the project, and she had “never ever” had a discussion with Mr Sidoti about the location of a metro train station in his electorate of Drummoyne.
“We would never take a decision unless it was the right decision,” she said.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance also said Mr Sidoti had not had any discussions with him about the site of a station at Five Dock, adding that the suburb was identified under the previous Labor government in 2009 as an appropriate location for a metro train station.
“Ultimately we are advised by Transport [for NSW] and the Metro team on the best way to build this. I haven’t had any discussions in relation to Five Dock [with Mr Sidoti],” he said.
Mr Sidoti and his property interests came under intense scrutiny during a parliamentary estimates committee in September, including a 10 per cent share he had acquired in a Rouse Hill development near another slated Metro project.
During the estimates hearing, Greens MP David Shoebridge used parliamentary privilege to accuse Mr Sidoti of using “insider knowledge” to purchase properties.
“I am saying outright that this is corrupt conduct under section 8 of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act and you should be referred for investigation,” Mr Shoebridge said at the time.
*It is time to ditch the surplus mania and force our government to stop worrying about some political con-job about economic management and to start facing up to the five years of falling living standards that have occurred under their watch.*
This government has abandoned economic logic – and no one seems willing to call them on it
The biggest con in Australian politics is the belief that a budget surplus not only matters, but that it demonstrates good economic management.
Our lives would be improved overnight if the political debate in this country could ditch the surplus obsession. The pertinent question at the moment is not whether a budget surplus will be delivered this financial year, but why on earth would you aim to do so?
Why do we need a budget surplus? It is not a question that gets asked too much – certainly not during the election campaign just passed, where both major parties argued over who had the bigger surplus.
The typical answer you get given is some vague notion of living within your means, saving for a rainy day, needing to pay down debt.
It’s all simplistic babble spoken by politicians with next to no economic logic in order to convince voters that somehow they are good at managing the economy – and for the most part it is taken as given by journalists.
The balance of the budget tells us very little about the management of the economy.
Liberal Party MPs would have you believe that the mining boom during the 2000s occurred because of the budget surplus. In reality the stonking amounts of revenue that flowed in to the government’s coffers during that time meant it was almost impossible not to run a surplus.
In 2000-01 government revenue reached 26% of GDP – a level greater than the amount of spending done by the Rudd government in 2009-10 when it embarked on its massive stimulus program to offset the impact of the GFC.
If the Rudd government had enjoyed the same level of revenue that the Howard government routinely did, it would have at worst had a deficit of about $3bn – rather than going into a deficit of 4.2% of GDP, or $54bn.
But of course, if it had revenue of that size it would not have needed to create a massive stimulus in order to keep the economy going.
When you get down to it, the only outcome that really matters in the economy is household living standards.
We want low unemployment, high productivity growth and all other things because we want it to lead to better living standards.
During the mining boom, you could be forgiven for thinking that a surplus was a sign that the economy was being well managed – household disposable income was growing at around 4% a year in real terms
Now, government revenue is growing off the back of high commodity prices, but our economy is struggling and household living standards are falling.
Over the past three years household living standards have fallen by levels more akin to a deep recession than a period where a government should be seeking to take the heat out of the economy with a budget surplus.
Because everyone should tattoo this to their eyeballs: the only reason for a budget surplus is to slow the economy in order to control inflation.
This happened during the mining boom – but so addicted was Howard to cutting taxes and providing tax concessions that the budget surpluses were actually too small to stop inflation growth from rising.
And thus the Reserve Bank raised interest rates 12 times in six years in order to slow things down.
Back then the Howard government was content for this to happen because they believed they would always be able to sell the line that interest rates would always be lower under a Liberal government.
Now we are in the opposite situation. Inflation barely has a pulse, the overall economy is growing slower than it has since 2001, and the private sector is growing slower than at any time since the 1990s recession.
The Morrison government is mostly content to let the RBA keep cutting rates to stimulate the economy because it believes it will be able to sell the line that it is doing a good job because it has delivered a budget surplus.
The last time we had a budget surplus was in 2007-08, when the RBA raised the cash rate four times, from 6.25% to 7.25%.
*So far this financial year the RBA has cut the cash rate three times, from 1.5% to 0.75%.
*That is not a sign the economy needs slowing.
The last time the RBA raised the cash rate was in November 2010 – a time so long ago Steve Smith had only played in two test matches, Novak Djokovic had won only one grand slam title and Australians had yet to see the new British TV series, Downton Abbey.
During that entire time we have been obsessed about trying to get back to a budget surplus andyet also during that time inflation growth has remained weak, and household living standards have stagnated.
But such has been the potency of the surplus con job that should the government actually face reason and dare to utter the words “stimulus,”most news outlets would be quickly running with the failure to deliver a surplus, and the ALP as well would quickly get on board attacking the move.
And we would continue this awful economic debate where we discuss things through a frame that has been irrelevant for more than a decade now.
*At some point, someone in the ALP or LNP is going to twig that the economy has changed since the GFC – what seemed correct then is most definitely not now.
*It is time to ditch the surplus mania and force our government to stop worrying about some political con-job about economic management and to start facing up to the five years of falling living standards that have occurred under their watch.*
• Greg Jericho writes on economics for Guardian Australia
For years, MB has highlighted the deep flaws in Australia’s purported ‘skilled’ visa system, which accounts for around two-thirds of Australia’s planned migrant intake:
Our concerns has been based upon three main flaws, specifically:
The overwhelming majority of migrants under the skilled stream are not actually skilled;
Those that have arrived in Australia have overwhelmingly gone into areas that are not experiencing skills shortages; and
The pay rates attached to skilled visas are appallingly low and undercut Australian workers.
Regarding the first flaw, the Productivity Commission’s 2016 Migrant Intake into Australia report revealed that around half of Australia’s skilled migrant intake is comprised of family members (spouses and children) of the primary skilled applicant, thus meaning that only around 30% of Australia’s planned migrant intake is actually ‘skilled’:
…within the skill stream, about half of the visas granted were for ‘secondary applicants’ — partners (who may or may not be skilled) and dependent children… Therefore, while the skill stream has increased relative to the family stream, family immigrants from the skill and family stream still make up about 70 per cent of the Migration Programme (figure 2.8)…
Primary applicants tend to have a better fiscal outcome than secondary applicants — the current system does not consider the age or skills of secondary applicants as part of the criteria for granting permanent skill visas…
Regarding the second flaw, the Department of Jobs & Small Business produces an annual time-series database tracking skills shortages across occupations. This database shows that since the mining construction boom ended in 2012, skills shortages across managerial and professional occupations have run below the 32-year average:
*This is important because three-quarters of visas handed out under the skilled stream under both the permanent and temporary programs are for managerial and professional occupations, which are already well supplied with workers.
*The failure of Australia’s ‘skilled’ visa programs to alleviate genuine skills shortages arises because almost any occupation is eligible for visas, and skilled occupation lists have no requirement that the occupations are actually experiencing skills shortages.
*Accordingly, ‘skilled’ visas are being used by employers to access foreign workers for an ulterior motive, namely to undercut local workers and lower wage costs.
This incentive to employ cheap foreign labour has been exacerbated by the federal government’s appallingly low salary floor for temporary skills shortage (TSS) visas.
This salary floor has been set at just $53,900 since 2013-14, which is $19,000 below the median full-time Australian salary of $72,900 (comprising both skilled and unskilled workers).
Not surprisingly, then, the actual pay rates for ‘skilled’ workers is below the population as a whole, according to the Department of Home Affairs’ Continuous Survey of Australia’s Migrants. This survey revealed that the median full-time salary 18 months after being granted a skilled visa was just $72,000 in 2016, below the population median of $72,900. This is an appalling result given the population median includes unskilled workers, which drags the nation-wide median full-time salary down.
*With this unsavoury background in mind, SBS News published an interesting case study highlightingwhy Australia’s skilled visa system is a hoax.
The SBS article profiles a Pakistani family that migrated to South Australia on a permanent state-nominated ‘skills shortage’ visa, only for the primary visa holder to deliver food for six months before finally gaining work in the highly oversupplied mechanical engineering field:
When Pakistani migrant Ishtiaq Ahmed was considering a destination to call home for his young family in Australia, Adelaide was at the top of his list…
The 32-year-old moved to Adelaide in 2017 with his wife Zartaisha Kanwal and child and soon later found work in mechanical engineering on a subclass 190 Skilled Nomination Visa…
When Mr Ahmed first arrived in Adelaide he had to work odd jobs, including delivering food, for six months before he landed a job in his trained profession as a mechanical engineer.
This case study meets the first two flaws identified above.
First, the primary ‘skilled’ visa holder has brought over three unskilled dependents on a permanent basis – a wife and two children.
Second, the skilled visa holder has arrived in South Australia to work in an area – mechanical engineering – that is already way oversupplied with qualified workers.
Proof of this is documented clearly in the Department of Employment’s latest skills shortages report for South Australia. This report shows that there were 94 applicants per job vacancy in mechanical engineering in 2019, with 81 qualified applicants per vacancy:
• The average number of applicants increased significantly in 2019 (94.0), compared to 2018 (20.4). • The average number of suitable applicants per vacancy was relatively unchanged in 2019 (1.2), from 2018 (1.1)… • The average number of qualified applicants per vacancy increased in 2019 (81.4) compared to in 2018 (17.6). • The reasons why applicants were considered unsuitable included: ○ Applicants lacked skills and experience in technical fields in specific industries ○ Applicants lacked basic soft skills including being able to work in a team and communication skills ○ Applicants were not considered an appropriate ‘fit’ for the organisation’s culture and values. • Employers required applicants to have a tertiary qualification, a bachelor degree specialising in mechanical engineering field and most employers required a minimum of two to five years experience. • Employers found it difficult to recruit experienced Mechanical Engineers in specialised fields that required five to ten years experience and met specific industry requirements.
Clearly, by enticing foreign labour into areas that are already oversupplied with workers, it undercuts local workers and supresses wage growth.
In order to stop the rorting, the wage floor for temporary and permanent skilled migrants should lifted to the 80th to 90th percentile of earnings, or indexed to double the median wage.
This would ensure that Australia’s visa system is used sparingly by employers to recruit only the highest skilled migrants. It would also prevent employers from undercutting local workers and encourage them to provide training.
It is a worry for the Government. It is much less secure than Labor is making out (for no apparent reason), via The Australian:
The Coalition has maintained its lead over Labor despite pressure over the economy and criticism of drought relief for farmers as Anthony Albanese’s approval ratings sink to their lowest since he came to the job.
An exclusive Newspoll conducted for The Australian shows no change in the headline numbers for the government, with the Coalition holding a two-party-preferred lead of 51 per cent to 49 per cent.
It’s not hard to see why:
falling living standards;
interminable per capita recession;
falling real wages;
force fed mass immigration;
CCPs silent invasion of universities, Canberra and the Gladys Liu affair;
endless energy crisis;
house price bubble yoyo.
I can’t recall a new Government honeymoon this weak.Perhaps the only reason it is not as issue in the press is that its lost all faith in polls itself.
If Labor had a brain they’d be making hay. Scratch that, they’d be in power.
Scott Morrison’s problem is that he gets politics – and is good at it – but doesn’t get economics.
*ThePrime Minister doesn’t get that if he keeps playing politics while doing nothing to stop the economy sliding into recession, nothing will save him from the voters’ wrath.
Neither he nor Josh Frydenberg seem to get that if we endure another year of very weak growth before they pop up next September boasting about their fabulous budget surplus, no one will be cheering.
…Frydenberg’s argument about the need to “reload the fiscal canon” ready for the next downturn makes perfect sense – provided you’re paying back public debt at a time when the economy’s growing strongly and, if anything, could use a bit of slowing to ensure inflation doesn’t get away.
That’s not us, unfortunately.
…My bet is Morrison and Frydenberg will eventually panic and take stimulatory measures (probably a lot of them), but they’ll come too late in the piece to stop confidence unravelling, with punters tightening their belts as businesses lay off staff.
That’s my read too, reinforced by more blather from the L-plate treasurer today:
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has left Washington upbeat about challenges facing the global and domestic economies, including a “more positive” outlook for a US-China trade fix, even as the IMF warned Australia must tackle tax reform and that next year’s budget may need to tap some of the surplus to stimulate growth.
Mr Frydenberg said his message was “there’s no need to panic” and that the global economy “remains sound”, after three days of intense talks with counterparts from around the world, including US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid and India’s Nirmala Sitharaman.
“Despite the challenges facing the global economy I found that people were more optimistic than not about the ability of the economy to get back on track,” he told The Australian Financial Review before boarding his flight back home.
So, let’s not assess the Aussie economy on its merits. Instead let’s deploy a false binary in which we shouldn’t “panic”. Who is suggesting that we panic? Nobody. Just about every economist I read is suggesting we should boost infrastructure spending, Newstart, etc. It’s hardly panic. It’s decreasing the fiscal drag when you’ve got weak growth. To wit, today:
The Morrison government has spent only $2.2 million out of a $3.5 billion infrastructure fund designed to connect key ports, airports and other transport hubs around Australia.
The “roads of strategic importance” scheme, which had its funding boosted by a further $1 billion in the 2019-20 budget after being announced 18 months ago, has only started construction on the $2.2 million upgrade to the Murchison Highway in Tasmania.
As Gittins says, what will happen is that Recessionberg will panic when he leaves it too long. Moreover, because the next accident coming to Australia is a terms of trade crash (that has already begun), which is largely driven by market adjustments in bulk commodities not slowing global growth anyway, Recessionberg will panic just as the viability of his next wave of tax cuts come into question. This is poor budget management, poor economic management and poor politics.
But at least the rictus treasurer will smile all the way through it.
Last week, Labor attracted scorn from union leaders after the party’s caucus voted to support the federal government’s proposed free-trade agreements (FTAs) with Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru.
The key area of contention is that the Indian and Peru FTAs include working rights, which would expand the number of temporary migrant workers in Australia by several thousand, thus further undercutting local workers.
Over the weekend, a union-backed motion opposing free these FTAs was narrowly defeated 67 votes to 64 at the 2019 conference of Labor’s Northern Territory branch.
The motion included a provision that MPs who vote for policies against the national platform should be expelled from the party. Warren Snowdon, Luke Gosling and Malarndirri McCarthy could have faced expulsion if the motion had been passed. From The Australian:
The ACTU and some Labor MPs argue that the free-trade deals, which the Labor leader and federal caucus backed last week, are a violation of the policy platform.
The motion was proposed by the Electrical Trades Union and backed by the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union. CFMEU Queensland and NT secretary Michael Ravbar spoke in favour of the motion…
The Opposition Leader yesterday defended supporting the agreements, saying they were “good for Australian jobs”…
The union movement claims that Labor has reneged on a deal to protect Australian workers in FTAs:
Back in December 2018 the AMIEU and other Unions made a deal with the Labor Party that the conditions of Australian workers would be protected in all future trade agreements.
Labor was so embarrassed when we threatened to picket a Bill Shorten fundraising event they agreed to introduce better and fairer trade agreement legislation.
We expect Labor to honour the deal struck with the Union movement, but already they are showing signs of flopping.
Labor Parliamentarians MUST OPPOSE the Liberal Government’s new free trade agreements with Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru.
These new trade agreements will increase the number of temporary visa workers in Australia, of which there are already 1.4 million. Visa workers are taken advantage of by multinational corporations and used to erode the wages and conditions of everyone.
Not only have these free trade agreements not been independently assessed, they do not require labour market testing and even allow multinationals to sue the Australian government if they aren’t making enough money.
The AMIEU has written to Federal Labor, Greens and Independent Parliamentarians to oppose the proposed free trade agreements. We urge these Parliamentarians to closely examine the new trade agreements to see just how they will disadvantage Australian workers.
Federal Labor Parliamentarians, if you aren’t going to fight for the workers you claim to represent, you aren’t fit for your job.
As I said last week, the “Labor” Party no longer supports the working class, but rather inner-city social justice warriors and virtue signallers. They care more about identity politics than real issues that impact the working class.
*Nor is the union movement adequately representing its working-class. While it is fighting the good fight on FTAs, it remains a wholehearted supporter of Australia’s mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ policy, even signing a ‘Big Australia’ immigration compact with employer groups last year.
This comes despite mass immigration being a key driver of inequality, since it raises the wealth of capitalists while driving down the wages of ordinary workers, and forces workers to live in smaller and more expensive housing.
Rather than focussing on tiny FTAs, unions need to push for root-and-branch immigration reform, starting with dramatically lowering the overall permanent migrant intake, as well as setting a wage floor for ‘skilled’ migrants at the 80th to 90th percentile of earnings or double the median wage.
This would ensure the scheme is used sparingly by employers on only the highest skilled migrants, not as a general labour market tool for accessing cheap foreign labour and eliminating the need for training.
Photo: The Australian: Mimicking Howard just a start for Albanese