In May 2008 Catalyst held its first public forum Temporary Migration: Economic Opportunity for Whom?

Temporary Migration

Economic Opportunity for Whom?

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, has released the report in October 2008 on the Visa Subclass 457 Integrity Review. To access this report click here. This review was discussed at the Catalyst forum in May 2008: Temporary Migration: Economic Opportunity for Whom?

On 1st April 2009 the Federal Government announced their response to the 457 Visa Integrity Review.

    Click here to read the Minister's statement
    Click here to listen to Radio Australia's (Radio National) coverage of the changes
    Click here to read how Fairfax media covered the annoucement

In September 2009 the 7.30 Report compiled a story on sham building contractors and their exploitation of workers who are often on 457 Visas. Click here to read the ABC's transcript or watch the video

Catalyst Australia Forum & Resources

On 6th May, 2008 Catalyst held its first public forum Temporary Migration: Economic Opportunity for Whom?. Over 100 people came along to hear leading speakers, including the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, leading academics, employers, unions and community organisations.

pdfSummary of the Temporary Migration forum107.55 KB

Listen to an interview from key speakers at the forum on ABC Radio National.

mp3 download:

Speakers and papers

  • Bob Kinnaird’s presentation [PDF 257kb] showed that concerns that the 457 visa program is a cheap labour program are justified.
  • Jim Barrett from Australian Industry Group provided an employer’s perspective on 457 visas [PDF 273kb] and outlined main industries where visas operate.
  • Nic Maclellan gave an overview of the New Zealand Pacific guest workers scheme. Read his important paper on this scheme [PDF 493kb]
  • John Sutton from the CFMEU spoke of the two track labour market where ‘outsiders’ perform the hard, unpleasant, arduous work at low pay and the locals work in higher paid jobs up the skill spectrum. His paper [PDF 112kb] focuses on flaws in the 457 visa system.

Other speakers and resources

  • Dr Bob Birrell looked at how immigration is driving high population growth and will impact on the Rudd government’s 2050 climate change targets. To access the research of Dr Birrell see
  • Dr Patricia Ranald from the Australian Fair and Trade Investment Network spoke about the dangers of the growing trend to include temporary migrant worker arrangements in trade agreements. See
  • Dr Amanda Wise and Dr Selvaraj Velayutham, are working on a project to develop insights into the cultural and social impacts of temporary migration (457 visa class) from the perspective of the temporary skilled migrant, and the impact on the Australian social and cultural landscape. See
  • Jane Corpuz-Brock from Migrante Australia spoke of the 457 visa workers experience – which can be one of fear and intimidation. See
  • Dr Michele Ford teaches Ford teaches about social activism and human rights in Asia. Her research focuses on Indonesian trade unions and NGOs and on organised labour's responses to labour migration in East and Southeast Asia.
  • The Anti-Slavery Project – Promoting a Human Rights Response to Slavery and Trafficking in Australia
  • Wilhelm Harnisch is the CEO of Master Builders Australia the leading industry association for the building and construction industry. Wilhelm has been in the industry for nearly 30 years and in his current role is responsible for representing the wide-ranging interests of the building and construction industry both in Australia and overseas. He is a widely recognised expert by governments, industry and the media, both in Australia and overseas.
  • Julius Roe is the National President of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union and a member of the ACTU Executive. He has been an official of the AMWU and its predecessors since 1987.
  • The slideshow presents the photographer Therese Sweeney who has a commitment through social documentary to capture marginalised and unseen communities in Sydney. Therese has been reclaiming image making in south west Sydney since the early 1990’s and has been documenting work practices and labour throughout this period. Her work is housed in many collections including the State Library of NSW.  Featured here are the market gardeners within the Bringelly region near Liverpool providing us with a historical snapshot of migration waves from the Yugoslav and Italian pioneers to the more prominent Chinese and Vietnamese farmers and new emerging migrant populations including the Sudanese.  They embody and exemplify our long tradition of migration contributing to people’s livelihoods and community. The Bringelly growers provide Sydney with 80% of its fresh produce. Therese’s social documentary work drew into sharp focus the tension caused when the 4,500 strong farming community were forced to dislocate as the farming land is developed to house over 250,000 people.