MR: immigration minister right to tighten temporary worker program
The new Minister for Immigration, Brendan O’Connor, has made an excellent start in his portfolio by tightening the temporary workers’ program and thereby protecting Australian workers, according to Sustainable Population Australia Inc. (SPA).
The temporary worker program, whereby foreign workers come in on 457 visas, was set up to fill skill gaps in Australian businesses and industry. A requirement of the program is that employers, before bringing in workers from overseas, must ensure that there are no local workers to fill the positions in question.
SPA National President, Ms Sandra Kanck, says, however, that there have been a number of cases of unscrupulous employers bypassing the requirements of the program and bringing in overseas workers, sometimes at lower wages, even when there were locals available to do the work.
“It is good to see this Labor Government standing up for Australian workers,” says Ms Kanck. “That was, after all, the original mandate of the Labor Party.
She praised Minister O’Connor for giving local workers a ‘fair go’ by cracking down in three areas: notifying employers when shortages do not exist; raising English standards for temporary workers; and enforcing existing training requirements for businesses.
“Nevertheless, immigration – both temporary and permanent – has blown out since the Labor Party took office over five years ago, disadvantaging local workers. While unemployment of 5.4 per cent may be low compared to other OECD countries, it masks a great deal of underemployment in the community,” she says.
“As Professor Bob Birrell of Monash University pointed out in a paper last month, the number of new jobs being created over the past two years has been about equal to the number of immigrants in that time, in other words, there have been no new jobs for workers already here be they immigrants who arrived before 2011 or Australian born workers.
“We hope this tightening of the temporary program will be a precursor to his tightening the permanent program as well,” says Ms Kanck
Further information: Sandra Kanck ph 08 8336 4114 till 4.30 pm, then 0417882143