“Work is hard here, especially for us. Even a machine will wear out after being used a long time.”
Senator WALSH: Can the minister explain why… temporary migrant workers who can’t go home… have been excluded from the JobKeeper program?
Senator CASH: I thank the senator for her question… In relation to the senator’s question: because the government had to draw a line somewhere.
– Senate Hansard, April 8, 2020
Over the last two decades, low paying work has increasingly been done by workers with no right to stay in Australia. It is especially the case in the food system. Temporary migrant workers plant, pick, pack, slaughter, slice, cook and deliver food for everyone else.
Twin senate inquiries, into temporary migration and underpayment, are due to report at the end of the year. They have received more than 170 submissions so far, but few contain testimony from migrant workers.
The Saturday Paper met four people living in Australia, working along the food chain.
André Dao is a producer of the Walkley Award-winning podcast The Messenger and a co-founder of Behind the Wire.
Michael Green is the host of The Messenger and a co-ordinator of Behind the Wire, an oral history project documenting people's experiences of immigration detention.
Tia Kass is a Walkley-nominated illustrator and street artist. He is a member of the Workers Art Collective.
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