Doctor and activist

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Tag: Immigration

Immigration – it is Time to Clean it up.

19 November 2022

One of the legacies of the Morrison Government is a complete mess in immigration.

I grew up in Port Kembla where a huge influx of ‘displaced persons’ (i.e. refugees) from post-war Europe came to Australia and worked in the Steelworks. Initially the kids at my primary school came from the migrant hostels that had been set up in the old army accommodation, but then the NSW Housing Commission built whole suburbs to cope with the load. These were initially rented, but eventually they bought their homes.  The kids learned English, we got used to their funny names and unusual school lunches and they grew up as good Aussie kids.  

It might be noted that there was an influx of Hungarians after the 1956 uprising against the Russians there and some of those became captains of Austr;ian industry.  Australia took a lot of refugees from Vietnam, claimed it was a multicultural country and had benefited enormously from the influx of foreign talent. Paul Keating tried to fund an initiative to foster language teaching so that a large number of Australians would become bilingual, but this and the free ESL (English as a Second Language) classes were defunded by John Howard, who won an election by demonising  refugees and promising to ‘turn back the boats’  The fact that there were numerically not very many boat people and that political refugees are generally the elite  from when re they come was ignored and Australia was set on a path of not only being totally callous with refugees, but also wasting huge amounts of money on dodgy contractors and facilities.  The delays were also a disgrace.

But meanwhile other immigration developed with migration agents charging exorbitant amounts, stories of people  of dubious character buying visas, and even sex slaves. Some employers brought people in with a sponsored deal that they had to work for 2 years to then be eligible for a permanent visa, and in my own experience I saw a couple on five 12 hour night shifts a week to get this.  Many students, allowed to work only 20 hours a week and unable to live on this were paid sub-award wages, obviously dragging Australian wages down in all the casual industries.

I have tried to help a number of good people who were injured and in danger of deportation to save insurers money, and found there are many dodgy practices and practitioners, as well as a very unresponsive system.

 The current ‘labour shortage’ shows how dependent we all were on work visa and student casual labour, and the fear of industry-wide awards that are actually enforced says quite a lot about what was going on.  

At last, after a lot of publicity about sex trafficking someone is cracking down on the Industry. Hopefully, this as well as adding a lot of public servants to process the applications in a more honest way will improve the situation. 

Taskforce targets migration criminals

Nick McKenzie SMH 19 November 2022

The federal government has established a new multi-agency taskforce to target criminals exploiting Australia’s migration system after revelations of widespread visa rorting linked to sex trafficking, foreign worker mistreatment and drug crime.

Operation Inglenook is led by Australian Border Force and backed by other state and federal agencies, and will target the organised crime gangs and migration fixers exposed by Trafficked, a major investigative series by the Herald, The Age and 60 Minutes.

The taskforce is focusing on 20 migration agents with suspected links to the rorting, and one federal government-licensed agent has already been issued a notice that the Office of the Migration Agents Regulation Agency will ban him from providing migration advice.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil has promised major reform to the system, and said yesterday that the new taskforce was being staffed by investigators and regulatory officials aiming to reduce rampant exploitation of the migration system.

‘‘Its goal is to disrupt the networks exposed by the Trafficked series. The taskforce includes intelligence and compliance teams to assist with an investigation into the vulnerabilities of the migration system,’’ O’Neil said.

The minister said that after years of neglect by the former Coalition government, Labor was now acting. The Office of the Migration Agents Regulation Agency was working closely with the new taskforce.

The Trafficked series cast a light on visa rorting, sex trafficking and foreign worker exploitation in Australia. Among the reports was that of a human trafficking boss who entered Australia in 2014 and built a criminal underground sex empire despite having previously been jailed in Britain for similar offending.

That crime boss, Binjun Xie, is in hiding and being sought by authorities after being exposed in the series. Border security failures enabled Xie to allegedly set up a nationwide sex network that police said moved Asian women around like ‘‘cattle’’.

Trafficked also revealed how state and federal agencies have spent years issuing confidential warnings of migration rorting involving syndicates gaming the visa system to bring criminals or exploited workers into Australia. This is facilitated by networks of corrupt federal government licensed migration agents, education colleges, fixers and people who rort the English language test.

The investigation also focused on migration agent Jack Ta, who had boasted of ‘‘cosy’’ meals with Coalition ministers and who donated more than $25,000 to the campaign fund of former Liberal assistant home affairs minister Jason Wood. Ta is suspected of repeatedly gaming the visa system to help more than a dozen drug offenders remain in Australia.

Wood was the chair of parliament’s migration committee when the donations took place and he hosted Ta on at least two occasions to dine with now opposition leader Peter Dutton when he was home affairs minister.

This masthead has also confirmed that Ta attended the launch for O’Neil’s election campaign when she was a shadow minister and bought items at an auction worth $5200. The funds were donated to a charity after Ta’s conduct was exposed by this masthead.

Authorities have linked Ta’s migration agency to dozens of unmeritorious asylum seeker claims, including at least 15 made by convicted Vietnamese drug offenders.

Earlier this month, the federal government cleared the way for an overhaul of the visa rules by naming former Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson to review the system.

The new taskforce to investigate the migration scams will complement his inquiry.

Parkinson said it was ‘‘indisputable’’ the migration system was not working.

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Djokovic Fiasco reflects no credit on Australia

6 January 2022

Most people know that Novak Djokovic is pushing to be the Greatest tennis player Of All Time (GOAT) and needs just one Grand Slam victory to achieve this. Most also know he has been very successful in the Australian Open, which starts next week.  There is little doubt that a lot of people, myself included would be very interested in whether he can win after his failure against Medvedev in the US Open.

Many people are aware that he has been anti-vax and he unwisely attended a tournament last May and he and a number of others got COVID19, presumably by the Delta variant, but this is not recorded.

He has never been a popular as the smooth Roger Federer, or the rougher battler Raphael Nadal who are his great rivals for the GOAT title.  He was seen as not quite as warm a character.  He was praised by the President in his native Serbia for his early victories, but this cooled a bit when he made politically progressive statements.  His anti-vaxx statements have been frankly embarrassing.

Australia has a rule that if you are not vaccinated you cannot have a visa. 

Whether this should be the only criterion for entry should be a moot point.  With most infectious disease, having antibodies at a certain level assumes that you are immune to reinfection with the same disease.  This works for polio, but with ‘flu, where the virus changes, people get infected by a different strain every year.

The CDC (US Centre for Disease Control) guidelines are somewhat equivocal about antibodies. They will not say that having antibodies means either than you cannot be infected or that any infection will be minor.  It seems that COVID is considered more like ‘flu than polio.

It was not clear on what ground Tennis Australia allowed him to come, but now Border Force have excluded him, and the Prime Minister smugly talks about rules being rules.

It is important that we are protected, and many Australians have endured a lot of suffering in lockdown to achieve this, so they have little time for people to be treated differently.  But if Djokovic had COVID 6 months ago, it is hard to believe that he constitutes a high risk when the whole country has decided to abandon masks, distancing, QR codes and venue number restrictions. One might wonder what his antibody status is, or whether this was known.

It is important that various agencies in a country remain independent. We do not want Border Force deciding medical issues, nor Tennis Australia deciding immigration policy.  But Australia looks pretty silly, when one group allows him and another does not.  As a tennis watcher, I would like to see him play, and it does seem that the politics are overcoming the science. 

Now we bring in the lawyers, another idiot factor?

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Corruption at Many Levels- the ripping off of Meat workers

1 September 2021

An article in the SMH on 31/8/21 said that there was a lot of bribery and corruption in the recruitment of Chinese to work in Australian abattoirs.

Abattoir work is physically hard and unpleasant, so rather than pay Australians more to do it, workers are recruited from overseas, like fruit pickers.  The government, perhaps because of political donations is happy to make special 457 visas for this, rather than insist that the jobs go to Australian residents. This is the case for both Liberal and Labor. (Marx said that people were more loyal to their class than to their country, but we won’t mention this now).

So the recruitment process has been corrupted as some foreign people will pay a lot to get into Australia and after working here for 2 years on totally exploited wages they hope to get a residency visa.  Recruitment agents may take whatever money they can get, and whatever other little sweeteners.  Fake CVs were used to claim that Chinese had good English skills and had worked in abattoirs, which is presumably unlikely as Chinese abattoir workers would not have the money to pay the recruiters.  This farce came to light naturally from a whistle-blower who was in on the deal rather than any regulatory agency, the Home Affairs Dept or the Meat Industry National Training Council (MINTRAC).  The Union was not mentioned in the story. 

Migration agents are a poorly controlled profession at the best of times, with many dodgy operators exploiting desperate people.

Australia should spread its wealth by paying people to do jobs like abattoirs and fruit picking, and if these products are more expensive in consequence, we need encouragement to Buy Australian produce. Of course ‘free trade’ treaties favour cheap imports, but if we are going to have the social harmony that comes from a reasonably equitable society, we have to spread the nation’s wealth.  Cheap meat should not just lead to a conga line of corruption and exploitation as a by-product.

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