A multicultural spokesman has warned that migrants will be punished for making Australia home, unless a plan to make new arrivals wait up to four years for welfare benefits is reversed.
Ethnic Communities Council WA spokesman Suresh Rajan said that the plan was “highly inappropriate” and claimed migrants will be disadvantaged if the plan was put in place.
The plan supported by Federal Labor would make migrants granted a permanent skilled or family visa from January 1 next year, wait for four years for a number of payments.
Labor made amendments to the bill, including a two year wait for carer payments, parental leave pay, as well as dad and partner pay.
The changes will result in a one year wait for a carer allowance and family tax benefit A.
Migrant job seekers will be the hardest hit, with a four year wait for Newstart payments.
Labor claimed its negotiations took the “rough edges” off the bill to save it from potential One Nation amendments.
However, Mr Rajan believed the changes in particular to Newstart were an attack on migrants, placing them under intense financial strain while they look for a job.
“If they are unable to get a job for whatever reason, unemployment rates are very high at the present time, they are unable to get a job, they come here hoping for a better job,” Mr Rajan said.
“Or what if they happen to come on a job and then they lose the job?”
“They can’t do anything for four years.”
He said Newstart was a “safety net” for migrants while they looked for work.
“It is the one area that provides for anyone who’s down and out on their luck, can’t get a job, this provides that safety net that makes sure that they don’t fall into complete poverty and that their family are not at risk,” Mr Rajan said.
Mr Rajan said migrants were being treated differently.
“Everyone else in Australia who lives here who is a permanent resident and these people are permanent residents, they’re entitled to get their dole or Newstart,”he said.
“They are being disadvantaged purely because they’re migrants.”
He claimed it was also an anti-migration plan that would deter people from coming to Australia.
“The government’s clearly indicated that they are not going to meet the target of 190,000 people coming into the country,” Mr Rajan said.
Not About Migrants, About Federal Election: Political Commentators
Murdoch University’s Senior Lecturer in Politics and Policy Ian Cook has claimed the changes were not about migrants, but instead a way for the coalition to get voter support ahead of the 2019 Federal Election.
“This is very much about Australian voters,” Dr Cook said.
“I think that there’s a good number of people in Australia who want to see tough immigration policies, I think this speaks to them.”
He said Labor was “scrambling to justify” its support for the plans, claiming they were trying to make their changes more sympathetic to migrants compared to potential negotiations with One Nation.
However, Mr Rajan said multicultural supporters would continue to appeal to members of government to make sure payments are provided from day one.
“The only thing we can do is continue to appeal to various members of parliament,” he said.
“There are particular individuals that we know are very supportive, certainly the Greens are very supportive of this type of policy and we now have to look to various independents as well.”