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January 19, 2004

No photo ID, no work

US immigration reformers might take heart from the recent announcement of this policy proposal from Australia's major centre left opposition[1]:

Foreigners working in Australia would be issued with a photo identity card and, if found working without one, would be deported, the Opposition Leader, Mark Latham, said yesterday ...

All non-residents with the right to work would be issued with a card when their visa was granted. The card would expire with their visa. Apart from a photo it would feature their name, nationality, passport number, visa status and tax file number, and they would be required to present it when seeking work.

Speaking in Townsville, Mr Latham said: "We've got 60,000 illegal migrants within Australia and half of those are working - 30,000 illegal overseas workers who are taking up Australian jobs and running down Australian working conditions and entitlements. The Howard Government talks a lot about border protection but in fact it is neglecting a lot of the big issues within the migration system ...

The announcement followed several days on the hustings in Queensland in which Mr Latham has ramped up Labor's security rhetoric, promising to be tougher on border protection than the Howard Government.

[1] Quoting is not endorsement. Personally I'm ambivalent about the 'righter than thou' rhetoric on immigration adopted by the Labor Party because of historical parallels - e.g. traditionally it was the Labor party which was more 'gung ho' on the White Australia Policy until recently. Nonetheless it's worth noting that Latham has adopted a very clever tactic - the policy wll go down well with the dwindling blue collar organised labour base, and he can defend himself against charges of xenophobia on the basis that it's all about protecting illegals from 'exploitation'.

Posted by jason_s at 12:14 AM