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Software company's response to Australian government abolishing migrant visas (rexsoftware.com)
49 points by razodactyl 240 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 79 comments

They should just replace the whole shebang with 'pay us $x to get a visa, $y for PR, $z for citizenship'.

Company wants to hire from overseas? Fine, they can figure out how to split the cost between company and employee, with zero government involvement. Rich people from the US seeking doomsday shelter? A few million dollars, a clean criminal record and less than 48 hours in the queue. Much easier than the current system.

You'll end up with a monoculture of uber rich foreigners - a problem that Australia already has. Maybe it would work when we introduce death taxes?

Almost all social problems created from this change in immigration policy can be fixed with money. And we'll be swimming in money. And we can use it to fix problems unrelated to this policy.

Yes money makes things easier. I think our biggest problems now are housing and the future of employment (aka the youth), unfortunately neither of these issues needs more money involved.

Do you seriously think those problems can't be fixed with money? Increasing housing supply costs money. Upgrading the education system costs money. UBI and other social services for people replaced by automation costs money. Investment in innovation and basic scientific research costs money.

In the same way, preventing monoculture is a simple case of directly subsidizing people's visas/PR/citizenship on various grounds, humanitarian or otherwise, under my scheme.

The only difference is that by attaching a firm market value per document, we'll finally get a clear sense on the opportunity cost of immigration policy by fiat. The current system is a mess of inefficiency and hidden cross-subsidies that can mostly be much better spent on other, more urgent problems.

Yes I do.

Increasing the supply should fix the problem but there are so many other factors at play in the Australian housing market. Tax concessions, foreign investment, wage stagnation, youth unemployment make it a very hostile market for many people. It's all too big to fail and prices need to go up to keep everyone's super from devaluing.

Investment in the education system won't lead to big change without deregulation of university either, something which is very unpopular.

UBI plus the policy you suggest would lead to a system where people can pay once and never have to work.

As Atlassian said, the problem with innovation isn't the money, it's the government which is only now just catching up with the new way business is happening.

>In the same way, preventing monoculture is a simple case of directly subsidizing people's visas/PR/citizenship on various grounds, humanitarian or otherwise, under my scheme.

If we still can't even select uni entrants based on those holistic measures what chance do we have of selecting migrants?

Let's look at this from another perspective: do you see an improvement to any of these large complex problems if we remove money from it? Do you see ways to marginally improve things with marginally more money? Just so you know, my answers are no and yes.

>If we still can't even select uni entrants based on those holistic measures what chance do we have of selecting migrants?

And yet migrants still get selected on a yearly basis. Sucks, I know.

There are no magic solutions that let you pick with 100% accuracy, but I sure can come up with things that still have problems but better than what happens currently. The current system is arbitrary, slow, and with large cross subsidies being flung around with no oversight.

Simply putting a dollar value on each document would give the policy makers plenty more incentive to make sure the subsidies at least go to the right place.

edit: I suspect your argument boils down to "we shouldn't do this thing that gives us huge amounts of money, because we don't need money."

Am I being uncharitable?

>I think your comments are coming off as sassy hence the downvotes, but I don't mind.

Eh. No biggie.

>My argument is more that I believe large injections of money were the original cause of a lot of the problems we have, adding more is perhaps a band-aid solution.

This is more a question of resource allocation efficiency. You're right, the government does indeed waste a lot of the money it takes in, but the answer there is to improve efficiency, not artificially decreasing income. When there is an opportunity for large revenue increase while simultaneously cutting queue times? Still a go.

>I personally believe we need to suffer the short term pain of looking out for our own citizens above all else, most of which would mean popping the bubble and removing the interventionist policies.

If there is a bubble to be popped, the government would be in a stronger position if it first builds up a financial warchest.

>I am worried that this will happen along with the visa changes causing a greater loss of sovereignty than was ever intended...

With my plan we'll suddenly make a number of very rich and powerful people Australian citizens. If anything this brings in new blood to challenge the Murdochs media and their US slant. Plus I suspect the influx of business interests will see a strong swing against any sort of US-lead military adventurism. That's sovereignty right there.

I suppose there would be worries of a soft Chinese / Indian / whatever takeover, but this is mostly avoidable by setting the ticket price high enough to reduce the absolute numbers coming in, then supplement with subsidized tickets for preferred demos.

I think your comments are coming off as sassy hence the downvotes, but I don't mind.

My argument is more that I believe large injections of money were the original cause of a lot of the problems we have, adding more is perhaps a band-aid solution.

I personally believe we need to suffer the short term pain of looking out for our own citizens above all else, most of which would mean popping the bubble and removing the interventionist policies.

I am worried that this will happen along with the visa changes causing a greater loss of sovereignty than was ever intended...

A business investment visa already is that.

No, a business investment visa is an invitation to come over and set up a minimum viable, likely-not-profitable 'business' for the duration it takes to satisfy requirements. The government gets peanuts out of it, the 'investors' waste years of their lives playing pretend.

It's a shit show. Much better to just charge cash, speed up the processing and let in those who actually think they can make money despite the steep cost of entry. And if they fail anyway - reserve a small portion of the ticket price to put them on the dole.

Yep. I believe you can also become an Australian permanent resident and then citizen through that visa. You just need a spare 5 to 15 million dollars AUD to invest, depending :). IIRC Steve Wozniak went for it or at least was considering it. Details here: https://www.border.gov.au/Lega/Lega/Form/Immi-FAQs/what-is-t...

Lots of countries already have that including the US.

> I am sad when I look into the eyes of my staff on 457 or working holiday visas .... How do I ask them to help us do our small but proud part in sustaining Australia’s economic growth and providing more jobs for Australians and other immigrants?

I know that this part is entirely rhetorical, but the thought of a boss in tech coming over and trying to inspire me to do my work 'for the good of the country' is just too amusing. :)

Just to make sure, the skilled point-based migration system is still in place in Australia? I.e. can you obtain a work visa and travel to the country to find a job there?

On the bright side, India could benefit immensely from less brain drain.

They already are. Amazon, Linkedin, Microsoft, Uber etc have offices there, paying top talent to the tune of $60-$80/year.

For comparison, this is more than median tech salaries in London and cost of living in India is peanuts.

Can someone give me some context here? So now it's impossible to hire foreign workers?

Companies are only meant to use the visa to fill a need/gap where there are no local workers to fill a job.

The minimum wage for the visa is $40,000 USD ($53k AUD).

What companies are doing however, is hiring foreign workers (typically from India for IT based roles) and paying them $40k rather than the local average wage of $75-100k.

They are using the visa as a method to decrease wage costs to almost half of what a local worker would cost.

I believe companies are complaining as there is a possibility that there will be less access to cheap foreign labour and they'll have to start paying true costs for workers.

So, essentially this parallels the H1-B situation in the US.

We are NOT (at least many of us) opposed to immigration. We want more Americans. What we don't want is a class of temporary workers to out-compete domestic workers because they 1) can't switch jobs and 2) are cheaper.

Yes, Australian "457 visas" are the equivalent of US H1-B visas.

I'm guessing you haven't had to try and hire devs in Australia before if cost of developers is what you think the main problem is.

I've recently had a pretty good look at the Melbourne software dev market and there are seemingly plenty of senior devs looking for work, companies here appear to have the "pick of the litter" when hiring.

Maybe you're just in the wrong part of Australia?

Melbourne is a positive outlier and not at all representative of the rest of Australia. Finding senior devs in Brisbane is an insanely arduous process and its not uncommon to see positions take 6+ months to fill (at least at the places I've worked at). Even when companies start throwing money around like crazy, the talent just isn't there.

I've heard that Sydney isn't so great either. Once devs hit seniority they run along to join a hip Melbournian startup, get gobbled up by Atlassian, or just migrate to Silicon Valley.

So what's the salary you're offering for this unfillable position, and what's the average price of a home there?

When you say you had a pretty good look at the market what do you mean?

I mean I helped someone look for a new role and got to see the major local players and the talent pool they're hiring from (if they hire at all, lots of places seem to advertise but are in no hurry to actually hire anyone.)

There are plenty of fish in the sea, at least around here. All you have do is go to a meetup group or two to see that.

How did you see the talent pool they are hiring from if you were helping someone look for a job and not helping someone hire for a job?

Did you ask companies to see their applicant lists and CVs or something?

Any of the meetups I've been to in Australia are mostly employed people(half only there to try and find other devs), recruiters and uni students or recent grads. Which meetups did you go to it would likely be worth adding them to my list for next time I'm in Melbourne.

I think he's implying that there should be more poaching... Personally I find it a strange concept which seems confined to sales and tech jobs (especially in America)

Can you explain?

It's really hard to find intermediate to senior devs in Australia and has been for nearly a decade. It's even harder now with a few big companies like Atlassian grabbing them up enmasse whenever they become available.

An inability to find intermediate and senior australian devs -- (but apparently not entry level) -- sounds like a failure of tech employers to grow talent. Shipping people in from overseas works around that problem, and so the problem goes unfixed.

If the industry got that problem fixed, they could drive down labor costs for all intermediate and senior devs, not just foreign ones.

>sounds like a failure of tech employers to grow talent

I see this a lot but people making this argument never seem to consider the fact that demand can increase substantially in a field over a very small amount of time. You blame it on companies not training talent but haven't even considered that the numbers just aren't there.

Again costs aren't an issue so driving down costs is at best a tertiary goal.

Btw I'm one of those intermediate and senior australian devs. Looking at changing jobs if you're interested.

Sounds like they're simply expensive to hire, not necessarily hard to find.

Say you need a senior developer and there are none on the market so you offer mine a 10% increase and free chocolate bars to come work for you. You now have a senior developer and I'm now in need of one but there are none of the market.

When you suggest someone pay developers more to hire them away from the competition you aren't solving the problem you are just moving it to another company.

I thought the whole premise of capitalism is that jobs will be paid what they are worth according to supply and demand.

If the wages go up because there is more demand (or it's a job that people are unwilling to do), you will be amazed how quickly more devs will appear.

Putting the band aid of cheap workers from overseas will not fix the problem either.

I've answered this elsewhere in these comments.

Wages go up, people flood into the field -- I'm not sure what the problem is there? Don't we collectively want software development to become more financially attractive so that more students choose to study it?

You seem to fail to understand the difference between a junior and an intermediate to senior dev and think they are interchangeable.

A bunch of new people flooding into the field are zero use to companies that need higher level employees to grow. And will be zero use for a number of years.

I get planning for the future is good but it doesn't solve the current problem at all.

The current problem is that companies are unwilling to pay what they need to to get what they want.

I understand your point about there not being enough senior devs locally, but I'm still iffy about that being true. I would accept that argument if the wages had doubled in the past few years or so, but that hasn't happened. The companies aren't trying hard enough.

So I'm guessing you have found your attempts to hire senior devs in Australia to be easy?

I'm not a hirer but a lowly employee.

See my recent edit. I keep an eye on the market and I haven't seen any crazy wage increases.

I'm not against being convinced of the point but atm I'm just not convinced that there's no senior devs to find, at the right price.

Also, how long have these visas been going on for?

It's kind of a chicken-and-egg problem I guess. Because of the band-aid fix of the visas, the wages never go up and there's no extra incentive for people to become devs.

edit: I can't reply any more, I guess because it's become too deep.

You say I don't know the problem, but I am actually intermediate-level IT, and atm I have little incentive to move up because the wages are not commensurate with the extra responsibilities in my opinion.

So I feel I do have some knowledge of the problem at least anecdotally, as I would personally be applying for those positions if I felt I would be fairly paid for the extra stress/time/responsibility.

So you are claiming that the only thing holding you back from progressing your career is that you don't want to do more work for what you see as not enough money? If that is true you suffer from some serious short sightedness in regards to your career. AND you don't have any experience in the topic.

Well, we're only talking about me now, but I have pretty much decided that I do not want to progress any further in my current direction. I'm on a pretty good pay now and the work situation is acceptable.

I am investigating ways to invest the money I have made/am still making in the best ways for the best possible return, and also looking to downshift by pursuing projects/businesses in my free time that I am simply interested in - that have no guarantee of financial success, while also looking into the possibility of moving to a less expensive part of the country.

I am not looking for a promotion which includes taking on more stress and less free time in exchange for an insufficient pay increase. It would need to be significant for me to take the chance, and from what I have seen out there, I haven't found anything that would satisfy me, although if I was actually out of work now perhaps I would accept less.

If that makes me unqualified in your opinion to comment about whether pays are sufficient for exactly the type of job that I'd be applying for, I don't care. I also don't care if you think I'm ambitious enough. I'm very sure I wouldn't want to work for you anyway.

There was even an out-of-work dev commenting that he was looking for work in this very thread. I don't know what more I can say.

edit: I was being a dick here

It does make you unqualified because you haven't been on there other side of the table trying to hire ever.

The only person I saw was looking to change jobs which is to say leave their current employer with a need for an intermediate developer.

re: you being a dick. Yes we can all be dicks sometimes but that was incorrect as well as rude. Of course I have considered negotiating. It's absolutely none of your business of course but I work government so no possibility of negotiation. I am on the highest pay grade I can get with my skills without a complete change of occupation, and tbh I feel I'm getting an ok deal for the amount of stress I have with my pay and conditions. Especially so when I work closely with people in different roles that are getting completely exploited pay-wise in my opinion.

I know it'd be more work doing stuff for myself but at least I'd have more control over my own destiny, plus the possibility that it would work out very well, which I don't have now working a 9-to-5. It'd be pretty disappointing if it fell in a flaming heap though.

Well, I do feel that being a prospective employee makes me qualified to comment, so there you go. Just because I haven't put a job ad up with an artificially lowered pay and had no applicants doesn't mean I haven't seen what's on offer out there.

Have you considered, like people have been saying in these comments, that you may not have been getting applicants (such as myself) because the conditions or pay weren't as reasonable as you think?

ie, Do you really think if you doubled the pay you were offering you wouldn't have got more applicants?

If I left my job, for argument's sake, say to work at your place, someone with a lower level of skill could start at my old job and learn it as they go, like I had to with little training so many years ago. Some old people leave, some new people start. I think there's lots of skilled people out there. We shouldn't be bringing in slave labour from overseas so we can continue with our artificially lowered pays. If we're going to do capitalism we might as well do it properly... So if your business can't afford to pay what its costs are, then it is not a viable business.

Also obviously that guy who did apply was not happy with the pay or conditions at the place he was working at, so there's that.

Anyway we obviously don't see eye-to-eye on this issue.

I've explained elsewhere why raising wages doesn't solve the problem.

You are convinced there is no problem when you admittedly have no experience with the issue. You're also expecting to see changes that wouldn't fix the problem because of your lack of experience with The problem.

What you don't seem to understand is that the visa system destroys the whole concept of supply and demand.

If your business can't hire workers, you will have to raise salaries. If you can't afford the higher salaries, you don't have a viable business (at least, without the use of wage arbitrage and indentured servants).

The extra supply of labor will come into the market as soon as they're receiving signals that wages are rising, working conditions good, etc. Until then, it seems like a waste of time: why study really difficult software when you will be competing with folks willing to work much more cheaply.

You might have to wait a bit for this pipeline to fix itself since you purposefully broke it this past decade by using visas to game the system.

I've already responded to this claim in these comments. For what you say to be true there would need to be a large market of senior developers waiting in the wings refusing to work until wages go up.

You're also assuming the growth in jobs has been steady and predictable which it hasn't a spoiler in demand runs the whole idea that we just need more juniors starting.

The problem is companies can't wait so they can bring in workers who pay taxes here and contribute to the economy or they can move there jobs over seas. I expect we'll be seeing a lot more of the latter going forward.

To be fair, anecdotally at least, a ton of seniors/intermediates just migrate elsewhere. The pay for dev work in the US is _WAY_ higher than in Oz, especially at that level. Though, I've been away for almost ten years so maybe that has changed.

I've had quite a few friends pack up and move to the US, frustrated that it seemed to be the only option for growing their development work.

I guess this all depends where your perspective sits.

The two aren't mutually exclusive. A lot of the top talent will go to the states because there are more opportunities for them there further draining the pool in Australia.

The companies that choose to remain in Australia then are handicapped by an inability to find good talent and either limit growth or move overseas. The later ones make the above developers choice even easier since there are now even more jobs over there.

Very good point.

Now it becomes the responsibility of the industry to encourage students to study computer science in uni...

And those students might be helpful for these roles in a decade. So do you expect these companies to survive just cooling their heels until then?

Too bad for these companies. They gamed with basic supply and demand. Lot of industries which don't abuse foreign labor as much have a steady pipeline of candidates because these grads saw your company - shitty wages, awful working conditions, no future - and bailed the fuck out and into a other career path. Now these companies, dependent on cheap visa labor, may have to pay back some of the fat cash they've gained by screwing their own nations' workforce for the last two decades.

Tech doesn't need a steady pipeline there has been a huge increase in demand.

Where after you looking with shitty wages and awful working conditions? And what other career paths do you think these people bailed out into that have better pay?

Sure it does need more talent, but alleged pipeline has been stalled by multiple factors.

1) Foreign and outsourced labour taking the entry level jobs preventing experience from accumulating.

2) Turning many jobs into glorified web apps and CRUD. Can't really go senior on that. You could on OSS or big and long personal projects but that takes a lot of time and thus money.

1) Very few people are going to go through the hassle of sponsoring an overseas worker for a junior role. It's a pain in the ass. I think this is an issue that is hugely over stated.

2) I don't know if you remember this but back before everything was a crud web app they were crud desktop apps. Most development work just isn't ever that exciting.

Lastly you don't consider at all that demand has outpaced the pipeline.

That's a bit of a gotcha argument. Besides, it's my experience there are plenty of senior devs to go around.

Your experience is apparently going to a meet up to help a friend find a job. I'm not sure your experience is reality.

As sanswork said, easy to get new devs, but as soon as they've put in a few years it's very easy to go out on your own or go overseas.

So what? You'll have to compete?

You've gotten so used to your cheap labor, indentured workforce,that you can't even contemplate employees participating in a free market?

There are 10 people working that can do the job there industry needs 15. How do you get the extra 5 just by increasing salaries?

That's globalization I guess, an extreme example is: would you blame a nation in poverty struggling for existence in the modern world for not attracting good techos?

As for contractors, all's fair in the free market except when contracting to government who are blind to /real/ value due to a range of bureaucratic reasons.


No, there are two new visas coming in to replace the 457 visa. It's fairly unclear to me specifically what will change under the new visa structure. One supposed change is that "there won't be permanent residency outcomes at the end of [the new 2 year visa]", but otherwise it sounds like it is possibly just a shrink to the list of approved jobs. Honestly, it sounds like it's just a ploy to grab back some voters who have defected to the far-right One Nation party without making any significant change. This suspicion is strengthened by another "announcement" [1] about the citizenship test which just appears to be a cheap shot at criticising Islamic culture based on a recent incident. [2]

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-20/migrants-to-face-tough...

[2] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-13/islamic-groups-video-t...

Not much will change at all, it's just a stunt for headlines. the most abused occupation titles are still there.

The only visa removed right now is the sponsored, temporary one. That means people coming to work for a specific company for at most 4 years.

Other paths are still open. For example permanent visas without sponsorship. That one is likely harder to obtain however.

As far as I'm aware, it's being phased out in favour of two replacement visa classes, I don't know what this software company is complaining about.

The 457 had a fairly weak market assessment component unlike, for example, the (successful, but stringent) Canadian temporary work visas; so they're replacing the 457 programme with two separate programmes which include market assessments.

I think the replacements also don't contribute to an application for permanent residence, so you would need to qualify for an unsponsored work visa to become a permanent resident.

The article seems to frame the policy as anti-immigrant, though that is pretty thin. If you qualify to immigrate under the new visa programmes, then you are no less a legitimate immigrant.

Oh please. Spare us the pearl clutching. I'm willing to bet that if I filed a freedom of information act on this company's 457 applications that 1) there was little or no attempt to find a suitable candidate in the local market and 2) the 457s they did get have some relationship to employees already at the company.

The 457 visa was a government program that was being exploited, and quite obviously too, for quite some time, just like any government program eventually will be. For another recent example, look at what happened to the child care subsidy program. Government programs can serve a good purpose if they are well regulated and audited but comically and sadly for citizens they never are.

I just wonder if the 457 reforms would have taken so long if the Commonwealth Public Service had outsourced their IT to some South Asian consultancy and discovered that suddenly and mysteriously there were not enough skilled Australian IT workers to support them in Canberra (and elsewhere) and rather rapidly offices were filled with 457s. But this is exactly what large corporations in the private sector have done.

In IT and other sectors (notably health), companies are using 457s to save on employee salaries, pure and and simple. I have knowledge of assistants in medical practices being told to accept the lower salaries that their 457 co-workers are on or lose their jobs.

Oh, and it really annoys me what Atlassian founder Mike Cannon-Brookes keeps on saying. How about you invest in training locals instead of whinging all the time about not being able to import people?

BTW, I'm a UNSW CompSci graduate, 40+, have a lot of international experience, can operate at the technical and business level, speak a couple of languages, and after my last (5-year) contract ended I spent 2+ fruitless years searching for more IT work, while conspicuously the suburb I used to work in (with telcos, Cisco and software companies) filled with people from certain demographics. Despite all my experience, I didn't get invited to a single interview. Not one. Ageism and 457s killed the job market for people like me.

Atlassian hires tons of graduates.

> I spent 2+ fruitless years searching for more IT work, >I didn't get invited to a single interview

If you didn't get a single interview in two years of looking either you are vastly overestimating your capabilities compared to your CV or your CV is junk. How many different CVs did you try during that time? What are you skilled in? You say IT work but are you a programmer, ops, support? What are you business skills like? How does ageism factor in when you didn't even make it to the interviews for them to be able to tell your age?

Sigh. Clearly I wasn't referring to graduates. Read his comments recently regarding 457s.

Are you really that obtuse? I write my CV. It has 20+ years of experience plus degree from my University. Simple math not your strong point perhaps?

If you have 20+ years of experience on your CV it's a shit CV. Why would anyone hiring care what you were doing over 20 years ago?

I'm wondering what else was wrong with it that you didn't get a single response in 2 years of trying. Were you including unique cover letters? Where were you finding the jobs you were applying to? Did you try going through a recruiter?

And now we get to the crux of the matter. I wonder how old you are? Why is it that in IT broad long-term experience is considered irrelevant? If you have not done exactly that something in the past six months you might as well not exist. I love the conversations with recruiters/companies that go something like this:

Them: I see you you used technologies X,Y,Z in your last job. Me: Yes, and <I explain in further detail what that entailed> Them: Did you use <some tangential A-framework> with technology-X at all? Me: No, I used B-framework because reasons. Them: You are dead to us.

BTW, I find it puzzling you are focusing specifically on my perceived failure in the job market rather than the topic of the original post.

I'm in my mid-30s and I don't care how old you are I've worked with many excellent programmers in their 50s and 60s and learned tons from all of them.

Broad long-term experience isn't considered irrelevant it's just not needed on a CV. If you haven't done it in the past 5 years you're probably just not that skilled at it anymore and if you have it's already on the CV in the newer role.

Are you just imagining those conversations because you said in 2 years you never made it to the interview stage.

You are blaming your failure on the topic of the original post so it is relevant.

I was talking about actual in-the-flesh interviews, which are the only ones that count in the end. Recruiters/companies often do phone "interviews" or "pre-screenings" or whatever and those were the "conversations" I was referring to. So now you've called me a liar as well as having called my CVs "shit". What a pleasant co-worker you must be.

Edit: On that note, perhaps you could post somewhere an anonymised version of your CV so we can all benefit from the pinnacle of CV design.

So you've had interviews?

You shouldn't be so defensive of your CV but I apologize if I was rude. Plenty of mine were shit over the years too. I've had to read thousands over the years and discuss them with others so I have some idea of what turns hiring managers off. There is no need for that much history on a CV regardless of your age. You want your CV to tell the hiring person you can do the job. A full listing of all your work history doesn't do that it just adds pages to the print out that aren't going to be read and will probably annoy the person for having to scroll through them all since I assume you include other information at the end. 20+ year old educational qualifications don't do that. 5 years outside of uni you should drop it unless you have some particularly special and amazing qualification. Tell them if they ask.

I haven't needed a CV for like a decade now but rest assured my last one was pretty shit too.

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