An Australian Reader Says Woke Academics Want Lockdown Relief Payments For TEMPORARY Foreign Workers. Why Not Free Tickets Home?
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From: Phil Shannon [Email him]

In response to the COVID-induced free-fall of the Australian economy, the federal government has introduced JobKeeper, a massive ($130 billion) wage subsidy program which will pay employers AU $1,500 (USD$900) per fortnight for each employee who finds themselves at risk of “economically distancing” from employment income during government-imposed virus lockdown.  Over 750,000 businesses have already registered for the wage subsidy to pay to some six million workers.

A result of pressure from a united front of the Australian trade union movement and employer groups, JobKeeper pays two and a half times the dole, and is 70% of the median wage (similar to the 80% paid under Britain’s wage subsidy scheme, and Denmark’s 75%).  JobKeeper has been widely welcomed for providing financial relief and job security to workers and for shoring up economic viability for vulnerable businesses.

Not everybody is happy about it, however.  Woke academia is predictably irate.  One progressive scholar has arced up about the scheme excluding migrants in Australia on temporary working visas [The Conversation - Why Temporary Migrants Need Jobkeeper, April 6, 2020].  Author Joo-Cheong Tham (Wokeometer clue #1—the name), a law professor at Melbourne University (clue #2—an uber-liberal university), is also the Deputy Chair of the Migrant Workers Centre (clue #3—a zealot for foreign workers’ “rights”) and his beef is that the wage subsidy scheme is discriminatory, with many temporary working migrants being forced to return to their countries of origin, breaching four United Nations covenants.

Let us swiftly unpack this woke boilerplate:

  1. Particularly in times of economic extremis for Australian citizens, favorable job “discrimination” is their right, not a woke cuss-word to hide from.  Australian citizens are routinely discriminated against by the 900,000 temporary visa holders (international students, backpackers, etc.—mostly Asian) with work rights in Australia who have displaced that number of Australian citizens from the workforce, particularly in the low-skilled industries (hospitality, agriculture, health and aged care) which rely heavily on temporary migrants and the underpayment of legally-mandated wages that goes with it (for which egregious examples sometimes break surface—see the 7-Eleven scandal).
  2. Suggesting, as the conservative Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has, that if temporary migrants are “not in a position to support themselves, then there is the alternative for them to return to their home countries, is plain old common sense, not “racism”.  Isn’t the concept of “going back home” fundamentally built into the meaning of “temporary” migrant (unless, as is so often the case with immigration issues, “temporary” is the new permanent).
  3. Bowing down to the globalist talismans of the open-borders and sovereignty-sapping UN in order to ward off the evils of democratic national populism will just compound the mess such bodies and their constituent members got us into in the first place by screwing a nation’s citizen-workers for “diversity”-enriched corporate profits.

Phil Shannon is a veteran working class Australian socialist and latter-day supporter. See earlier letters from him here.


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