Peter Dutton's claims on migrants cause local backlash

MIGRANTS: Member for Barker Tony Pasin speaking at the opening of the Bordertown Migrant Resource Centre last month.
MIGRANTS: Member for Barker Tony Pasin speaking at the opening of the Bordertown Migrant Resource Centre last month.

Claims by Federal Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton that “illiterate and innumerate" migrants would “take Australian jobs” have caused local backlash.

Victorian documentary maker Malcolm McKinnon has said the remarks were “completely unfounded”.

Mr McKinnon has been in Bordertown over the last two months for a project with Country Arts SA.

“This is a Border(town)” will be a creation of a range of video clips and multi-media stories about migrants in Bordertown and also the experience of locals who are “extending a hand of friendship” to those new to town.

“It is obvious Peter Dutton didn’t know anything about places like Bordertown where refugees are providing a really valuable role in doing work that there is not a local workforce to do and I know that there are all sorts of places around the country where this is the case,” he said.

“When I was in Bordertown recently I met a number of people on different types of visas particularly refugees who are the backbone of the labour force at the meatworks and they are a valuable part of the community.

“I was also talking to a really diverse range of people who are in various ways offering support to these people who are trying to make a new life for themselves – it’s a really inspiring story.” 

JBS Bordertown plant manager Trevor Schiller said migrants are “absolutely” important to their business.

“From a regional point of view Bordertown has low unemployment and without the migrant workers we probably wouldn’t operate,” he said. “We need people here and the guys settle in to train in the right environment with the right training systems and without them we would struggle to fill the positions.”

Member for Barker Tony Pasin agreed and reiterated the vital contribution migrants make to the Bordertown and Naracoorte communities.

“The Tatiara and Naracoorte Lucindale areas enjoy relatively low unemployment, largely due to a number of industries that employ significant numbers of the local workforce,” he said.

“For example, the production and processing of red meat is the second largest contributor to gross regional product for the Limestone Coast. The two export abattoirs in the region rely heavily on employing migrants to maintain their workforce. This is equally true of the viticultural, horticultural and other industries central to the region’s economy.”