One might easily think so given the recent, cumulative increases in visa application fees that went up again on 1st September 2013
I still enjoying returning to Perth, which I treat like the family roost – ingesting the languid bounty of the city with a sense of entitlement like the fully stocked fridge and pantry in my parent’s kitchen.
Given the contentious political climate surrounding the federal election it seems appropriate upon reflection to address two subjects of florid debate that no matter how many times I come and go from Perth, are guaranteed to get a rosy rise out of the vast majority:
- Illegal immigration AKA boat people
- Rampant cost of living in Western Australia
Both are filled by choruses or ardent and angry voices. But what I find peculiar about the later of the two is the entire State appears in unilateral agreement – that the continual and unchecked usury over Perth prices for absolutely everything is fucking bullshit!
The only thing more depressing than having to pay ten bucks for a mid-strength beer is listening to the drab, unimaginative excuses for why everything’s so fucking expensive.
Why can’t we at least be entertained by farfetched and fraudulent taxes while being unashamedly robbed blind – like a State Government funded monorail for Perth city, or a glass submarine servicing Rottnest Island, and a space program to rival India?
Instead we get pathetic whimpers about rates, and overheads that are forced onto customers. Unfortunately, this appears to suit the laconic charm of West Aussies, who perch themselves at bars in WorkSafe overalls and shrug in unison, with a sigh under their breath, ‘What can you do?’ after they’re handed back shrapnel from a fifty dollar note.
There is nothing new to this story. But what I didn’t expect was the bravura of shameful profiteering to peak with yet another broad increase in government fees levied against Australian immigrants (albeit it sanctioned immigrants). Again, the outcry has been undivided – this time with much needed gusto from national news media coverage, all saying the same thing,
‘What a load of shit!’
And so they should.
It’s one thing to rip off us locals, whose mettle has been tried, tested and hardened by deceitful and dishonest people in power since the penal era. It’s another to extort money from some poor individual or family, who at their own personal expensive has made the life changing decision to apply, relocate and reside in Australia – where let’s not forget they will also contribute to the economy and cultural diversity of the country during their stay. There’s just something so inherently immoral about ripping off immigrants – it is literally like robbing the tuckshop money from the poor foreign exchange kid at school. Let’s at least let these people earn some of our currency before we rip them off it.
What is also so debasing about the new visa fees, which were made effective at the start of September is most of them already saw a substantial increase at the beginning of 2013 and/or again as recently as the start of June.
To give you some idea the highly popular Working Holiday visa (417/462) which annually injects Australia with a youthful and culturally vibrant casual workforce saw a 30% price increase at the start of January 2013. Following a mild reception of criticism from tourism agencies the Working Holiday now stands at $420 which equates to a 50% rise in less than one calendar year.
Along with a suggested limit of $5000 as ‘evidence of sufficient funds’ on Department of Immigration and Citizenship website, the total a backpacker now requires to comfortably enter Australia for a working holiday is $5420. Oh and that doesn’t included a predictably expensive plane ticket – begging the question how the fuck is someone in their twenties suppose to gather upward of 7000 clams just to come here to work?
Way more shocking than the rise in the Working Holiday visa is the increases slapped on the 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) visa. And just in case I have any dear readers with solid Trey Parker impressions who like to scream,
‘There stealing our jobs!’
I should point out a few notable things about the 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) visa – most of which are in fact fairly derivative so I apologise in advance to those with a more progressive view of immigration.
- The 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) visa is Temporary.
- The 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) visa is only available to people with specialist skills not present in the local workforce.
- The 457 is salary fixed so it cannot be abused in an unscrupulous manner to employ cheap foreign labour.
- The 457 is integral in bringing much needed specialist work skills to our shores – where workers fill critical needs of many companies to increase commercial performance.
The 457 visa already doubled in price from $455 to $900 on the 1st of July 2013. At the time excuses for the hike in cost sounded like,
‘Blah, blah, whatever, whatever, integrity to the program… blah, blah something, whatever matching predicted increases in volume of applicants… blah, blah, blah.’
All this sounded a bit like making smokers paying for budget shortfalls because they’re doing something bad and we’re really actually trying to help them. But even if you’re a gentile, trustworthy teetotler who doesn’t smoke none of this seems to justify another sweeping increase in visa fees only two months later.
It’s what I call Candy Bar Economics which follows the prevailing principle of failing cinemas – where they simply jack up the prices of the candy bar to compensate for shortfalls in revenue rather than address the primary issue of falling attendances.
And I haven’t even begun to address the spurious charges associated with visa applications – like the Subsequent Temporary Application Charge. This is a $700 additional fee required by almost any visa applicant who happens to be already residing on another visa.
Since the start of September the 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) costs $1035, which equates to a 78.5% increase in two months. Not to be outdone by the Australian Government’s exploitation of immigrants, the WA Government has followed the lead of NSW and ACT by introducing a $4000 annual school fees for children of families seeking temporary work visa status.
Even by Western Australian standards (where we endure inflationary leaps in utility charges, property prices and the cost of just about anything remotely fun as soon as we step outside our home) these immigration increases are more than just a proverbial flick in the nutsack for the 13,500 prospective 457 visa holders that enter our State every year to work.
Given Australia’s questionable and insular past immigration policies, one would quite reasonable question whether the current Australian Government no longer cares about sanctioned immigration. Maybe they’ve forgotten what everyone should already know, that for any young nation immigration is crucial to its economic vitality and cultural and social heritage.