Some weeks ago, our Prime Minister was slashdotted when she suspended her usual racist attacks on refugees to attack foreign IT workers and the companies that employ them with absurd accusations of "rorts" and "stealing" jobs.
Today, she's introduced new laws in the parliament aiming to further bastardization of intelligent, skilled and educated workers and anybody who associates with them, including Australian employers.
Unwarranted attention on a minority of IT workers
This is not just some random bill before the parliament. There are just two weeks left before the parliament concludes and an election campaign begins. It is clear that what we are seeing now is the Real Julia coming though, choosing to make the small minority of foreign workers in our country at the center of people's thoughts as they go to vote in September.
A debt of gratitude to foreign workers
These verses from our national anthem, Advance Australia Fair say a lot about how Australia became what it is today:
For those who've come across the seas
We've boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.
The last 200 years of Australia's history has been a story of immigration. It is not something to be afraid of: our forefathers celebrated it.
Foreign workers: why Australia needs you
Australia has had some appalling flops in IT and engineering:
- The OECD has criticised the amount of public infrastructure that hasn't been upgraded since the 1960s as a major risk for Australia's future economic growth
- London spent £100 million to build their Oyster card ticket system for public transport. Melbourne's attempts to replicate it were delivered 10 years late and with a budget of nearly $1.5 billion.
- Major technology problems have repeatedly hit companies such as Vodafone trying to do business in Australia while keeping up with fast-moving technology.
There is no doubt in my mind that additional foreign workers would have made a positive contribution to all of these problems or can do so in the future.
The sun never sets on IT
Every day, I collaborate with dozens of IT specialists all over the world through the virtual workplace that is the Internet, particularly in the free and open source software community. Many of these people, I've never even met and in most cases I don't even know where they are, where they were born or what is the colour of their skin. Those details wouldn't make any difference to the way that we work in IT today.
How many IT managers have time to waste dealing with more real world bureaucracy when they've experienced online, global productivity? How many IT workers feel demotivated by having to explain trivial details about their personal life to a Government bureaucrat who doesn't understand their skills and just looks at their colour?
If you think about it, any immigration officer who really understands IT wouldn't be an immigration officer. They would be working in IT themselves. Immigration officers, who don't understand IT, are now going to be further empowered to bully companies away from employing some talented workers on the basis of race or nationality. Hiring managers will be intimidated into these prejudiced and biased decisions by delays, processing fees and invasive demands for sensitive documents about business planning and recruitment strategies.
Australia's immigration system already has a horrendous reputation. Any visa application seems to take more than a year: no small company can keep a job position vacant that long. Families can't plan their children's schooling. Other life events come and go. There are exhorbitant fees, 1000% higher than in other western countries. Fewer and fewer self-respecting skilled workers are willing to put their spouses and children through the degrading medical examinations.
Judging the impact of poor immigration policy
While the economic impact of this immigration mess on industry is hard to quantify with an exact figure, we can take some insight from the education system. As the visa system has been hijacked by racists over the last 10 years, there has been a dramatic fall in participation (and revenues) from foreign students. In one year, enrolments (and revenue) fell 30%. This is not just bad for the balance sheets of the universities, it also means that in a future where commerce is global, Australians are more and more isolated and inexperienced culturally.
IT workers and their employers have plenty of choices: Australia's close neighbor, Singapore, is one of them. Visas are granted in 2 weeks, no degrading medical exam required, low taxes and tropical sunshine all year round. Many companies that find it impractical to deal with Australia's bureaucracy end up moving their best Australian workers to places like Singapore to be part of a global team. This can't be good for the workforce that is left behind without jobs.
The training delusion
Government officials continue to rant and rave about companies failing to train Australian workers. The new laws supposedly force companies to "fix" this problem and train Australian workers.
This, too, is a delusion: employers are not to blame. Some of the best Australian workers are already long gone to places like Singapore, London and the US. With talented foreign workers denied the opportunity to come and fill the void, there is less opportunity for skills to be acquired by more junior workers in Australian workplaces.
It is also extremely difficult for more junior workers to get a foot in the door in the international job market and the primary reason for this is the Australian Government's failure to fund university programs beyond a bachelor's degree. Compare this to Europe and the US where all competent graduates are funded through to a Masters or PhD program.
The bottom line is that more junior workers are denied the opportunity to get the best training either at home or abroad and in both cases it's not the foreign workers that can be blamed: it's the Government's own fault.
Why do we need skilled foreign workers when Australians can win Nobel Prizes?
The Australian press recently went into a frenzy when an Australian won the Nobel Prize for physics.
There was a catch though: he's a migrant from the United States (just don't tell the Prime Minister).
Dr. Schmidt migrated to Australia 20 years ago when the immigration system was not the same as today. Today, future Nobel Prize winners are being shown a brick wall - maybe we even have one of them rotting away in our death camps or left in the sea for sharks to eat.
The BBC recently revealed that Britain's successor to Stephen Hawking may be a young girl who migrated from India - it is chilling to imagine where a child like this may be hidden away under Australia's immigration system.
Bureaucracy leads to fraud and exploitation
It's been clearly demonstrated that wherever you have elaborate, artificial systems of bureaucracy it leads to inefficiency, it suppresses innovation and in the worst cases it enables fraud and exploitation.
The typical examples usually involve police in some third-world African nation setting up road blocks and collecting fees from travellers who want to pass the queues. This type of opportunism has also been found in Australia's immigration system, with one Federal politician already directly implicated and jailed for his role in a visa racket.
Gillard's own bullet man
A Queensland pensioner made international headlines recently when he was caught sending bullets in the mail to the Prime Minister. His demands were clear: stop immigration.
While most world leaders refuse to let nutcases like this dictate their actions, Gillard appears to have been transcribing his racist letters directly into these newest immigration laws. It is a sad reality that Australian politics regularly seeks to appeal to the worst instincts in people like bullet man.
The ultimate political failure
When politicians stoop to the level of demonizing immigrants it is usually a clue that the politicians themselves are past their use-by dates and out of fresh policy ideas.
When former French president Sarkozy tried to play the racist card in his campaign for re-election, it bit him in the bum and he was swept from power by the socialists.
As always in politics, there is an element of hypocrisy at work: neither our Head of Government (the Prime Minister) nor our Head of State (the Queen) was born in Australia. Gillard was born in Wales and migrated to Australia as a child. If Australians don't vote for her in September, will she be given 28 days notice to pack her bags and go back `home'?
From the frying pan and into the fire
The scariest thing is that if Australians see through this racist charade and refuse to vote for it, we could end up with something equally obnoxious: the other major political party is now gaining worldwide attention for their campaign linking gay marriage and homosexuals to bestiality.
Which prejudice is the lesser evil: racism or homophobia?