08 February 2010

Latest unfair policy change will not go unnoticed

The Daily Telegraph said it all. The screeching headline "MIGRANTS KEPT OUT" appeared under a banner saying "Unskilled foreign workers told they're not wanted". Then the first paragraph: "Twenty thousand foreigners applying to move to Australia will have their applications ripped up to stop an army of cooks, hairdressers and accountants from swamping our immigration system."

Sensationalism and mixed metaphors aside, the Sydney tabloid captures the flavour of the latest policy change with terms like "kept out", "not wanted" and "ripped up". Whether or not the target is such an unlikely invasion force as the one described, intent on swamping the system (in which case wouldn't it be a navy rather than an army?), is a technical detail the paper no doubt thinks is too complex for its readers to grapple with.

The changes announced today cover a wide field, but the decision to "cap" (or, as the Tele puts it, rip up) all skilled migration applications lodged before 1 September 2007 seems to be the one getting all the media attention, and for good reason. It is grossly unfair and will reflect badly on Australia's reputation in the long run.

On 1 September 2007 the Department of Immigration introduced electronic lodgement for offshore skilled migration visa applications. Resources were thrown into the new system and paper-based applications lodged before that date were put to the end the queue. By the time they were coming up for consideration early last year, the first wave of "priority processing" was introduced, which threw them back further.

Who are these people? A few cooks and hairdressers no doubt, a few more accountants, quite a lot of IT professionals, specialist managers, a lot of teachers, in short the people the Australian government said it wanted. They looked up the rules, correctly calculated their points, paid their fees (including fees for skills assessments, medical and police clearances and in some cases legal or agents fees) and waited patiently. On the reasonable expectation that they would be migrating to Australia they may have made choices such as turning down job offers, not applying to migrate elsewhere, decisions about property and education, etc.

How would you feel? What would you think about the country that treated you like that? What would you think of that country's attitude towards foreigners? Would you feel inclined to buy Australian goods, come here on a holiday, do business with this country? Would you communicate your negative feelings to others?

Apparently our political leaders have learnt nothing from the handling of the attacks on Indian students. It would be interesting to know how many of the 20,000 applications being ripped up came from Indian citizens.

More on the rest of the changes in another post.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for understand the way i feel. I am one of the applicants affected by the "capping and ceasing" My family and myself were in such hope that we were coming close to our goal, after waiting for almost 3yrs now and just when we thought we had it all we are back to square one. Yes this decision is unfair. I am willing to do anything to get my visa to Australia. I have too many hopes and dreams for a future in Australia. I have not put in so much of time, hopes, dreams and money to get my money back. If there is anyone who can help us fight this decision. Please Help.