MR: latest change to 457 program a retrograde step

13 March 2014

Media Releases 2014

The Abbott government’s reopening of a visa loophole in the temporary working visa (457) program is a retrograde step, according to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).

The Gillard government in 2013 had tightened the program to stop rorting by employers in the mining, construction and IT industries who knowingly hired hundreds more foreign workers than they had applied for.

SPA National President, Ms Jenny Goldie, says that with the recent decline of manufacturing in Australia and an increase in the unemployment rate to six percent in January of 2014 , it was critical that as many jobs as possible went to Australians.

“The Gillard government was right to tighten the 457 program in 2013,” says Ms Goldie.  “Companies had taken advantage of it by bringing in too many workers, to the disadvantage of local workers.

“In July last year, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported that real unemployment is more than double the official figure. It should actually be 13.1 per cent when ‘discouraged’ jobseekers, the ‘underemployed’ and those who want to start work within a month, but cannot begin immediately, are taken into account.”

Ms Goldie says bringing in excessive numbers of workers, albeit temporary, only puts pressure on governments needing to supply infrastructure for an additional 400,000 people who are added to the population each year. Australia’s population growth rate of 1.8 per cent is three times the OECD average of 0.55 per cent.

“Temporary workers need housing and hospitals just as much as permanent residents,” she says. “Perhaps if employers had responsibility for providing these themselves they would be less inclined to favour foreign workers over Australian residents.”

Further information: Jenny Goldie 0401 921 453

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