Rupert Murdoch's Australian Newspaper in an article Migrant workers scoring top pay" has made use of figures which which purportedly show that immigrants earn more, rather than less than their Australian equivalents, , as if to answer any possible objection to Australia's current record high rate of immigration.
SKILLED temporary migrant workers are earning on average $15,000 more than their Australian counterparts, undermining trade union claims that the system is being abused to undercut local wages.
Figures obtained by The Australian show that holders of 457 visas, which allow temporary skilled migrants to work in Australia for up to four years, are earning more than the average salaries of local workers across all industries in which they are employed.
The figures have reignited the debate over the use of foreign workers, with the Opposition seizing on the data as "dispelling the myth" that temporary skills workers are driving down wages, but unions and the Rudd Government insist that many visa holders are exploited by unscrupulous employers.
Of course, notwithstanding these purportedly average figures, there still remains many documented examples of ruthless exploitation of immigrant workers, and their depressing on the value of the labour of many in Australia's current workforce and this remains a valid reason to oppose high immigration.
However, even if it were not true as the figures in the Australian purport to show, the case against immigration should not begin and end with that question alone, rather it should most of all concern what serves the best interests of the existing inhabitants of this country. Displacing existing workers by immigrant workers, whether those workers are paid more or less is not in their interests.
If we are to believe the free market economists, then the unstated conclusion to be drawn these statistics is that immigrant workers are paid better because they are more productive and skilled than their Australian counterparts.
However, other factors may help increase the amounts that skilled immigrants earn. One would be that they are inherently more mobile and hence more able to move to where better wages are on offer.
At this moment in time the Australian economy is hardly a typical economy by world standards. The ever-escalating level of exports of our finite endowment of mineral resources as well as the subdivision of bushland and agricultural land for residential development means that there is a wealth available for those with the niche skills required for this economic activity that would not be available in other economies. It should not be altogether surprising if much of this finds its way into pockets of skilled migrants, but this economic activity is unsustainable in the longer the longer term, and the wealth generated is at an unacceptable cost to the environment and future generations. Without these distortions in the Australian economy the picture would be very different.
Wherever the ultimate truth may lie in claims and counterclaims about relative wage levels in Australia's highly dysfunctional economy, this article is typical of the shallow self-serving treatment given to the complex and socially divisive issue of immigration by the Murdoch press. Amongst the many other questions not even acknowledged here or in any of its other pro-population-growth propaganda is the well understood effect of population growth adding to housing hyper-inflation, traffic congestion, destruction of bio-diversity, water shortages, demands for services that our governments can no longer meet and the ongoing decline in our quality of life.