Scott Morrison christmas island nauru manus asylum seekers
(Image:AAP/Lukas Coch)

Scott Morrison’s may well ask “How good are jobs?”, but it turns out that his own negative narrative may be playing a role in stopping refugees from entering the workforce.  

From stopping the boats to threatening to place those on community bridging visas in mass detention centres, Morrison has built his career around a tough stance on asylum seekers. But according to a review the government has refused to release, he should stop threatening to “punt” refugees and start putting them in a positive light, The Sydney Morning Herald revealed this morning. 

The report was commissioned (somewhat regretfully, we assume) by Morrison himself late last year and was submitted to the government in February. Unsurprisingly, it’s been kept in secret since then, despite repeated efforts by media to see it. It reportedly found the government needed to create a more “positive narrative” on refugees to boost employment prospects. 

Unemployment rates of humanitarian migrants remain high. According to a Deloitte report from August of this year, 31.9% of refugees don’t have a job within five years of arriving in Australia. That rate decreases to 18.8% for those who arrived five to 10 years ago, dropping only by 0.8% for those who have been here for 10 to 15 years. Second generation refugees have unemployment rates similar to the rest of Australia. Many struggle to find work, citing issues with English, discrimination, and “a lack of Australian experience”. Despite these pitfalls, refugees are more entrepreneurial than your average Aussie, showing higher-than-average engagement in small and medium-sized business. 

During Morrison’s time as immigration minister, the Abbott government was offering asylum seekers up to $10,000 to return to their war-torn country. On the flip side, the Deloitte report has found increasing Australia’s humanitarian migrant intake to 44,000 per annum over a five-year period could increase economic output by more than $37.7 billion in net present value terms over the next 50 years. It also found the economy could sustain an average of 35,000 additional jobs every year for the next 50 years. 

To make the most of this economic boost, Morrison might need to sit down and start focusing on his own message: “How good are jobs?”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey