8 Responses

  1. sherry
    sherry January 6, 2017 at 9:12 pm

    I have to say that I don’t believe that SWP is more secured and regulated.
    http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/national/shocking-conditions-exposed-in-federal-governments-seasonal-worker-program/news-story/46a5db6adb9611b8db30a2a41689cc25

    I was one of the quarter of million backpackers. What I believed is, not many people know the exploitation until four corner-Slaving away. The policy maker only ask one question: Why the backpackers come?and how much they have spent here. If they here for the money, then great! We can take more from them.(32.5% tax) Don’t care about the drastic working condition. Don’t care about their 24 hours per day long working hours. Or $2 dollars per hour poorly wages.

    It’s a very ridiculous move of Tourism department, spent $10 million to promote the WHM program in England, Canada and Ireland. Because the shortage labour force is happening in primary industries, farm, meat or poultry processing plant. However, these industries they don’t even like to use white man, these young Caucasians are too smart to know their right. I have met a Canadian young WHV drive bus in Tasmania, no farmer willing to hire him. And many British gave up the second year, no way to collect 88 days, unless the $4 per hour picking strawberries job is worth or just use $500 to buy the second year.

    It’s more ridiculous watching the political shows about the backpacker tax. I think when the politicians arguing about how much tax rate should be fare, why the applicants are dropping, should of thinking about Australian economy recession. How weakness and worthless the Australian dollars now compare to 5-6 years ago.

  2. Nicole
    Nicole October 27, 2016 at 11:01 am

    SWP is no longer referred to as Pacific Seasonal Worker Program. Additionally, referring to participants solely as ‘Pacific Islanders’ with the inclusion of Timor-Leste, which doesn’t self-identify as a PiC neither in terms of culture nor geographically speaking.

    Other than this, I agree and support your proposed goal of “Reducing the number of backpackers and increasing the number of Pacific seasonal workers should be a central policy goal for migration in Australia”. I think broad reforms are due for both labour migration schemes. There are at present calls from the horticultural sector for parity in tax rates between the two schemes, I would meet this suggestion with a request for the government to remove the labour market testing requirement from the SWP as an effort toward achieving a parity in administrative burden between the two schemes. It would also be a shame to see the removal of superannuation from one scheme and not the other. If the government removes the requirement to pay super to backpackers, this only increases their relative attractiveness further reducing potential employer’s motivation to pursue approval to employ seasonal workers. If the government removes superannuation from both programs, the seasonal workers, who are often living in very poor conditions in their home country, will lose vital funds which assist them to improve their quality of life toward an acceptable level.

    I think reforms which support a shift from reliance on unregulated backpacker labour to the SWP is unlikely to occur because for the most part, the Australian people and the present government preference the cultural exchange objectives espoused by the WHM visa over the development objectives inherent with the SWP.

    1. Stephen Howes
      Stephen Howes October 27, 2016 at 8:48 pm

      Thanks Nicole. Fair points in your first para. On the second, I understand that the government is not abolishing super for backpackers but basically confiscating it via tax. On the third, I don’t think the Australian government prefers backpackers because of the cultural aspects, but because (a) employers prefer their flexibility and (b) they spend what they earn in Australia. But it is slowly changing, and the SWP is growing over time.

    2. Tess Newton Cain
      Tess Newton Cain October 28, 2016 at 11:38 am

      In an ideal world , superannuation collected from seasonal workers acts as a compulsory savings scheme uplifting the amount of cash that can be repatriated. The reality is that the process of getting it back is cumbersome and if workers do not receive assistance from an employer or agent it is often foregone. A better option is to facilitate payments into the national provident funds in home countries to assist with developing a buffer against financial shocks.

  3. Tess Newton Cain
    Tess Newton Cain October 27, 2016 at 10:47 am

    I think it’s really important to maintain a discussion about the inter relationship between how Australia deals with backpackers and how the SWP operates. Not least because it is deficiencies in ‘whole of government’ approaches that is one of the reasons that SWP lags behind RSE.

    However if the premise is that SWP is preferable because it is regulated and therefore exploitation is reduced it appears incongruous to then argue that the way to make SWP more attractive (e.g. To people who have been exploiting backpackers) is by removing the regulation that apparently provides protection to Pacific island workers.

    1. Stephen Howes
      Stephen Howes October 27, 2016 at 8:51 pm

      HI Tess, We’re not talking about removing the regulations, but making them less onerous, in sensible ways. See this blog for some very practical suggestions towards that end.

      1. Tess Newton Cain
        Tess Newton Cain October 28, 2016 at 11:42 am

        Hi Stephen, I agree that making them less onerous will be beneficial. I disagree that removing the requirement that they be registered is one of the more sensible options. If Australian government agencies including Fair Work Australia have limited resources, it is preferable that they know which employers they need to monitor by way of a registration process rather than trying to monitor everyone which creates the risk of widespread abuse as seen with the backpacker experience.

        1. Stephen Howes
          Stephen Howes October 29, 2016 at 3:46 pm

          We’re not arguing against removing the requirement of registration under the SWP. I’m not sure it is sensible to say that all employers who hire backpackers should be registered. But at a minimum, labour-hire companies should all be licensed, regardless of whom they hire.

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