"Skilled Visa Program" a giant fraud

February 08, 2019

If you want a textbook example of why Australia’s ‘skilled’ visa program is a giant fraud, look no further than the special pleading coming from Telstra CEO, Andy Penn (pictured), who has demanded the government leave the gates wide open for companies to employ foreign workers.

The Conservative Party has long called for reform of Australia's visa system which it believes is frequently rorted and exploited by criminals.

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The website Macrobusiness reports, Mr Penn told an audience in Melbourne that, with a skills shortage forcing companies including Telstra to hire overseas, he was in favour of policies that prioritised the needs of business and Australian workers over vote-grabbing populism.

“Skilled migrants bring ideas, they bring expertise and innovation, and they bring the capacity to train and skill their Australian colleagues,” Mr Penn said.

“Skilled migrants also add to Australia’s wealth," He said Telstra’s urgent need for software engineers and the like was behind the decision to open a new innovation and capability centre in Bangalore, India, later this year.

So is there a shortage of software engineers? Not according to the Department of Jobs and Small Business’  “historical list of skills shortages in Australia”, which shows that Software Engineer has never been in shortage in the entire 31 year history of the series.

Yet despite the complete absence skills shortages, software engineers were the second most popular occupation behind accountants, granted permanent visas in the skilled stream in 2017-18:

  • Accountants (3505)
  • Software Engineer (3112)
  • Registered Nurses (1561)
  • Developer Programmer (1487)
  • Cook (1257)


So where is this mythical skills shortage necessitating such a strong intake of ‘skilled’ migrants into Australia? This is a particularly pertinent question when also viewed in light of:

  • the persistently high labour underutilisation pervading across the Australian economy;
  • the stubbornly low wages growth;
  • the record number of university graduates, many of whom cannot gain meaningful employment; and
  • the appallingly low pay floor of $53,900 attached to ‘skilled’ migrants.

The sad reality is that Australia’s IT sector has been one of the most heavily abused by Australia’s ‘skilled’ migration system, given the large number of temporary and permanent foreign workers employed in this sector as well as the huge oversupply of local workers willing to do the job.

Clearly, Australia’s ‘skilled’ migration system is a farce that is working against the interests of incumbent residents – by clogging our cities, making housing less affordable, and undermining wages and working conditions. It needs to be shredded.

To read Leith Van Onselen's full article, click here.

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