Politics

Ukrainian refugees should come to Australia. It makes economic sense

Strange how poor our enterprise leaders and politicians are at any type of lateral considering. A daring gesture to deal with one among Australia’s main financial challenges is staring us proper within the face, however we’re so silo-bound in our considering we will’t grasp it.

Currently over 1,000,000 Ukrainians have fled Russia’s sickening invasion. Other international locations — with the notable exception of post-Brexit Britain — are opening their doorways to Ukrainians. Here, the Morrison authorities has solely stated precedence shall be given to fleeing Ukrainians, and 3000 visas have been permitted to this point.

Meanwhile enterprise continuously urges a rise in each short-term and everlasting migration to deal with workforce shortages, with unemployment at 4.2%, main workforce sectors like aged care shrinking after we want them to be quickly increasing, and even the federal government flagging it wants to seek out 20,000 additional defence personnel within the subsequent decade and a half.

But as Crikey’s Amber Schultz reported final week, the small variety of Ukrainians who’ve to this point reached Australia are being given vacationer visas.

There’s a lot to be learnt from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has thrown Canada’s doorways open to as many Ukrainians as it will possibly take. An identical Australian gesture — say, a pledge to welcome 100,000 Ukrainians as everlasting migrants in a particular visa class for victims of the invasion — can be a worthwhile everlasting enlargement of our labour pressure, lowering the reliance of enterprise on simply exploited short-term staff. It would additionally go some small approach to restoring Australia’s dismal repute for hostility to refugees.

While the vast majority of Ukrainians fleeing the invasion — like refugees from all conflicts — wish to go dwelling as soon as peace is restored, the probability of Russian domination of Ukraine when the invasion is lastly profitable, or the set up of a puppet regime in Kyiv in thrall to Putin’s gangsters, will doubtless encourage Ukrainians to remain away — most probably in Europe, the place so many have household or cultural ties, or the place they’ve studied or visited. The danger to Ukraine is the continued flight of its finest and brightest, however that may be the issue of Putin and whichever proxies it installs in Kyiv.

But many would possibly like to maneuver to someplace hotter, the place employment is plentiful.

Like each different developed nation with an ageing inhabitants, Australia faces a long-term problem of discovering a labour pressure. Relying on short-term migration to fill the gaps is a self-defeating answer in an setting during which labour will develop more and more scarce.

If about half of the hundred thousand migrants wished to affix the workforce, it could solely add round 50,000 folks a workforce of over 13 million — so unlikely to push down wages noticeably, whereas as everlasting migrants they would offer the financial advantages lengthy touted by advocates for greater immigration when it comes to elevated demand. They would grow to be a brand new story in Australia’s migration historical past, one more reason to boast of our success as a multicultural society.

So the place is the enterprise foyer, calling for Australia to take as many Ukrainians as it will possibly? Where are the calls within the Australian Financial Review for the federal government to throw open our borders to deal with the nightmarish scarcity of staff? Where are the enterprise supporters of refugees, like Tony Shepherd and Innes Willox who — to their immense credit score — travelled to the Middle East, noticed first-hand what was taking place, and referred to as for Australia to soak up Syrian refugees in 2015?

It’s time for Australia to open its doorways. It’s the humanitarian factor to do, and makes good enterprise sense too.



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