Laws proposed to ‘stop the abuse’ of the 457 visa system
Further laws to “stop the abuse” of the 457 immigration visas system were proposed by Labor on Thursday (June 6).
“There has been significant growth of the 457 system with more than 21,000 or 20 per cent more visa holders in Australia than this time last year,” revealed minister for immigration and citizenship Brendan O’Connor.
“At the same time there are even more sponsor employers who are doing the wrong thing.”
It was announced that the new laws will help “safeguard” Australian jobs and make sure skilled migrant workers are not exploited in any way after they arrive on our shores.
Mr O’Connor revealed that he is most concerned about the growing number of businesses using the 457 visa program to employ overseas workers in low-skill industries, such as the retail and hospitality sectors.
He said these industries had “traditionally provided jobs for young Australian workers” who would now be missing out.
One of the proposed laws Labor is hoping will help “stop the abuse” is a Local Jobs Check. This will ask that all employers provide evidence that they have advertised for local labour before opting to sponsor skilled migrant workers.
According to Mr O’Connor, this will not place an additional burden on employers who are already doing the right thing.
However, Australian Mines and Metals Association chief executive Steve Knott begged to differ when he openly condemned this proposed law change last week.
“The restrictions reportedly under consideration today would render the 457 visa program unusable,” announced Mr Knott in a June 3 statement.
“Some might conclude that the government and union intention all along was to discourage essential labour migration through prohibitive red tape and additional costs,” he said.
Another proposed law would see employers putting one or two per cent of their total yearly payroll into training both local staff and those on 457 migration visas while they are in Australia.
“It’s important that all employees are given the opportunity to develop new skills where possible so that companies can rely on a locally trained workforce,” said Mr O’Connor.
Labor is basically trying to enshrine “the obligations of sponsor employers in legislation” so that it is easier for inspectors of the Fair Work Ombudsman to investigate and prosecute business owners who are misusing the system.
And Mr O’Connor still maintains that misuse is rampant, stating that 15 per cent of current employer sponsors said they have “no difficulty finding local employees”.