Labor Leader Bill Shorten on Tuesday this week announced his Trump and One Nation inspired crackdown on foreign workers in Australia. Labor would change arrangements to Australia’s 457 skilled visa program. The 457 visa program currently allows companies to hire foreign workers when there is a shortage of local workers. Shorten announced that he wanted positions advertised for longer before a foreign skilled worker is sourced and wanted companies employing workers on 457 visas to be involved in training local citizens for the skills in demand.
The 457 visa program has been despised for a long time by Labor and their friends in the union movement, the reason they state is due to the risk of exploitation of foreign workers along with a fair go for local citizens. However it is widely speculated that their opposition due to the fact that these foreign workers do not bother to join trade unions therefore depressing their membership which in effect reduces their income and influence.
Shorten of course denied that his new policy was a response to the election of Donald Trump and growing support in Australia for Pauline Hanson and One Nation. He of course would deny this considering in the lead up to the election Shorten called Trump ‘barking mad’, even while congratulating him on his victory last week in Parliament he couldn’t help but take a swipe at what he called Trump’s discriminatory policies and remarks. While addressing a Victorian Labor Party conference last weekend he stated he would never support ‘disrespecting women, the unemployed, migrants, veterans, or Muslims’. Labor’s foreign spokesperson Penny Wong even suggested that Australia should rethink the US-Australian alliance basically because she doesn’t like Trump.
But Bill Shorten and Labor are not stupid and this week’s announcement gave some indication that they are taking note of the reasons why Trump had such wide appeal to working class voters. The policy got the praise of Pauline Hanson who tweeted ‘it seems Labor is now taking its cues from Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. Good to see’. Trump’s promise to bring back jobs and heavy industry to the United States helped deliver him victories in what is termed the rust-belt states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan which more often than not are won by the Democrats.
Trump’s victory in these traditional Democrat strongholds represent part of a growing realignment of traditional working class areas now voting for parties on the right. This is due to left wing parties around the world gradually betraying their original working class voter base. Most of their policies now appeal to elite inner city professional and academic types which is displayed in their growing nanny-statism and virtue signalling on social justice issues such as environmentalism and immigration which are completely contrary to the interest of the working class We have seen this realignment in Australia in working class areas such as Western Sydney. John Howard’s success as Prime Minister is credited to the so called Howard Battlers of blue collar workers.
However Bill Shorten’s policy still completely overlooks the main issues of why working class voters are abandoning the left and why they feel that their standard of living is declining and their jobs are disappearing. Labor shows no signs of backing away from its destructive environmental policies to fight the alleged crises of climate change. These include the state Labor government of Victoria’s renewable energy target and tripling of the tax on brown coal which has resulted in the closure of one of the state’s important coal fired power stations. 750 blue collar jobs were lost and the resulting increasing in power prices will put other industrial jobs in Victoria at risk. The Labor government just sat back and let this happen while the union movement did nothing to help save these workers jobs which is what they’re there for.
Federal Labor still supports an emissions trading scheme and a 50% renewable energy target which would result in the same job losses nationally. The state Labor government from South Australia has shut down all of the state’s coal fired power stations which it can be argued has been a major contribution to the complete decimation of heavy industry in that state. It has one of the highest power prices in the western world, one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and their complete reliance on renewable energy contributed to the recent state-wide blackout. Labor policy in this area has caused many working class people to lose their jobs and contributed to significantly higher costs of living. Trump’s policy in this area was to tear up the Paris Climate Agreement and put the nation’s coalminers back to work through cutting green and red tape. Hillary on the other hand states she wanted to put a lot of coal miners out of work.
Labor in its announcement did also concede that the working class are concerned about the current immigration policy of Australia. However they are cracking down on the wrong type of immigration. The people coming in on 457 visas are some of the most skilled migrants we could possibly get, they are paying Australian taxes and are not committing crimes or engaged in anti-social behaviour. While having making sure that job positions are available to local citizens first is important, this is not the main problem with immigration in Australia.
The Labor Party in effect still wants to open our borders to people smugglers, allowing boats to resume coming to Australia and thousands of so called refugees into Australia who have no or little employment skills. The last time Labor was in government we saw over 50,000 people arrive illegally, but they were not allowed to work thanks to the lobbying of the unions. Many of the refugees from that time who were allowed to stay in Australia are still on welfare (which are paid for by the taxes of working Australians) and are contributing to the growing amount of crime and social dysfunction in suburbs where most of the residents living there are from the working class.
Bill Shorten still believes a Muslim immigration ban is unthinkable, we should remember that he criticised Peter Dutton during the federal election for talking about the problems that refugees bring into our communities. The policy of 457 visas is nothing more than an appearance by Labor and Bill Shorten of talking tough while not actually addressing any of the real problems that working class people have with immigration.
The overall reaction of Labor MPs and commentators on the left to the election of Donald Trump is a better indication of their lack of willingness to listen to the working class they allege to represent. Sorry Bill Shorten but most working class people will see right through this policy and with your continued support of destructive progressive policies we have no confidence that you will learn the lessons from Trump and One Nation anytime soon.