The Dog’s Bollocks

Truth is like a dog’s bollocks – pretty obvious if you care to look.

The New Pacific Solution

Working for the Man — a great report tonight on Foreign Correspondent on New Zealand’s pacific island guest worker program. It certainly looks like a win-win situation all round. New Zealand’s primary producers benefit from reliable and cheap labour and hence New Zeland consumers and the national wealth. The island workers earn in an hour what they would earn in a day back in Vanuatu. The employers are liable for $3,000 for each worker not returned to the airport when the visa expires. The workers return home after 30 weeks with the equivalent of a couple of years pay saved to invest in their families and community — effectively bypassing the corruptions of government and the millions we have spent on them to little avail.

Rudd’s cabinet is now considering a report commissioned on the New Zealand model, and seems likely to give it the go ahead.

The only problems I see are the provision of sufficient goodwill and oversight to ensure that workers are not subjected to conditions in breech of the program’s requirements — remember Queensland’s sugar slaves last century? Inevitably we will absorb a higher proportion of pacific islanders into our population than we have now. Which means at least a generation of suspicion and fear from the white working poor fomented by the likes of Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt.

Other than those concerns it sounds like an excellent development.

What, with Kevin-spin-master-and-world-traveller-Rudd paving the way for a rigorous free trade agreement with China on his recent photo-op in Beijing, and this — why that’s two sound economic reforms in one week! And a lady GG to boot!

The Howardian Old Guard must be grumbling in their beers. “That damned Rudd is just too bloody clever for his own boots and his massive ego. See! It’s all just spin and style over substance.”

Filed under: Economics, Politics, , ,

6 Responses

  1. working dog says:

    \”Which means at least a generation of suspicion and fear from the white working poor fomented by the likes of Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt.\”

    You reckon? After all, the White Australia Policy was an ALP invention, enacted to keep those cheap funny-coloured foreign workers from our shores. And right here, right now, it\’s the Unions who are kicking up a big stink about bringing in foreign workers for the mines and construction sites here in WA – they\’re not any more fond of \”cheap funny-coloured foreign workers\” than the ALP of old was.

    It\’s far more likely to be Joe McDonald and Kevin Reynolds and their ilk \”fomenting suspicion and fear\” than Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones!

  2. slim says:

    Bolt, at least, from seeing his blog feeds, is on about Muslims and how they don’t fit into Australian society every other day.

    The particular NZ program is for short agricultural workers in a sector where it has been very difficult to find labour at all. The long-term skilled worker in the mining sector is a rather different situation. Common sense can make it work where it’s needed.

  3. Caroline says:

    It sounds good. But I fear my dim view of Australian employers as notoriously opportunistic cheapskate ripoff merchants and the fact that unemployment here is on the rise, might take one of the wins away. I tend to think that people working in Australia should be paid what we all are paid for or labours, i.e, bugger all! No doubt, what industry is in dire need of is a slave class, a working class an underclass, but its brazen resurrection in our so called egalitarian society could get ugly. I don’t know what the solution is and I’m glad that Pacific Island guest workers can earn a relative motza and go home rich and happy. But if a relative motza translates to $10 bucks or less an hour, I’m not so thrilled for its implications as to what I will be expected to work for and what the actual difference is and whether any of it is equitable.

  4. Fleeced says:

    I think most conservatives support a guest-worker program… the suspicion you mention for this plan gnberally comes not from the Bolts, but from traditional left-wing/pro-union forces.

    People like Caroline above, who have a “dim view of employers” – not to mention other funny ideas on an “appropriate” cost of labour – will scuttle this idea unfortunately (or impose onerous restrictions that make it effectively useless).

    I hope I’m wrong about that, because I agree with you: it is a win-win situation, that should have been adopted long before now.

  5. Both major parties have displayed great hesitancy towards taking in semi- and unskilled workers from the Pacific Islands. See this Senate Committee report –

    Hopefully this reluctance is dissipating.

    The Labor-side scepticism has tended to be based around the traditional ‘migrants take our jobs and/or drive down wages and conditions’, which is hard to fathom for jobs and areas where finding a reliable supply of labour is consistently difficuly (which is we they ‘rely’ on an ever increasing number of people on working holiday visas (i.e. backpackers) to do these jobs). Once the holes in the wages and conditions safety nets caused by Workchoices are properly plugged, this shouldn’t be a problem.

    The Liberal side apprehension has tended to be more based around the traditional fears that these workers won’t go home again – I have heard repeated statements by Immigration Dept officials saying Pacific Islanders are more likely to overstay their visas. Undoubtedly some do, but the largest group of overstayers come from the countries we take the backpackers from. In addition, adequate safeguards attached to a temporary guest worker style visa – such as you can’t return next year if you don’t go back at the end the season/period attached to the visa or breach your visa conditions in other ways – should reduce this problem even further. There will always be some who breach their visa conditions, but the only way to guarantee zero overstayers is to allow zero in in the first place, which means no tourists, no students, no backpackers and no temporary skilled workers.

  6. Melissa says:

    Dont panic! Its war!

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