Creating scapegoats


The Coalition's attacks appear to be politically as much as economically motivated. As Arthi Patel from the Immigration Advice and Rights Centre points out, the government's "cost savings" justification for cutting family reunion migrants, whose receipt of social security benefits is supposedly too high, is highly questionable: legislation it introduced on May 24 will prevent migrants from getting social security benefits (except a very restricted special benefit for "hardship" cases) for two years anyway.

Even if the "savings" are minimal, however, the immigration issue and migrants themselves serve the government's need for scapegoats for the unemployment crisis. Time and again, in all advanced capitalist countries, the rulers, via their media and governments, have played the race card and fuelled national chauvinism to divert working people's anger and frustration away from the real cause of their misery — the system's drive to reduce public services, wages and conditions, and to shore up the profits of big business.

Migrants neither "take our jobs" nor "exploit the welfare system". People from non-English speaking background are over-represented in the ranks of the unemployed. But data for 1990-94 also show that jobless immigrants are less likely than their Australian-born counterparts to be recipients of Job Search or Newstart allowance.

Furthermore, in each of the last three recessions, the unemployment rate of migrants has risen more quickly than that of the Australian born and has fallen more slowly in the recovery period.

The real cause of unemployment is not immigration but the fact that society is run in the interests of greedy corporations that have no interest in either real job creation or meeting any of the other needs of the majority of people, whether they be Aboriginal people, newly arrived immigrants or second, third or fourth generation Anglo-Australians.
Lisa Macdonald

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