Changes being made to the 457 visa programme in Australia which are to be introduced in July have come under criticism from businesses and industry. According to the Business Council of Australia the changes are ‘a classic regulatory overreach’ that risks damaging the competitiveness and viability of important projects and businesses.
‘Less than a month after the Department of Immigration reported that the 457 visa programme was responding well to economic needs and demand was declining in recent months the minister has claimed the program was being abused by some employers at the expense of local jobs,’ sais BCA chief executive Jennifer Westacott.
She does not believe the system is being abused by employers which is one reason given by officials for the decision to make changes. ‘If there are individual employers not complying with the legislation the government should deal with those employers directly rather than introduce ad hoc changes to the rules that only undermine business confidence and create disincentives for future investment,’ explained Westacott.
‘Where is the evidence of widespread and systematic abuse of the system that warrants new red tape being imposed on all businesses, businesses that are investing in Australia’s economy, but needing short term migration to help them do that by filling temporary skills shortages?’ she added.
She pointed out that 457 visas are important for giving business confidence to make long term investments knowing that genuine skills shortages in Australia can be overcome with temporary skilled migrants from abroad. ‘It is totally counterproductive for long term confidence and investment certainty for there to be constant tinkering with a system that the minister’s own department says is performing well. What should be remembered is temporary skilled migrants make a valuable contribution to Australia’s economy and to our diverse society as active participants,’ she said.
Quote from AustraliaForum.com : “My husband and I are in process of relocating in Australia on a 457 Visa. That’s good news! However I am starting to get a little bit concerned about the following information I read:”
Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) chief executive Steve Knott has urged a cautious approach to making changes. ‘Australia has a long and proud history of working with skilled migrants to contribute to the nation’s economic development and to expand job opportunities for Australians. Periods of heightened investment have also historically provided great opportunities for skilled people to migrate to our country and become permanent Australian citizens, often after initial work as temporary skilled migrants,’ he said.
He also pointed out that it is not a cheap option to replace Australian workers with overseas workers. ‘Overseas migration remains an important part of our nation building but is certainly not a cheap or a low cost alternative to hiring Australians, in fact costing up to $60,000 more per person in the resource industry. Overseas skilled migration plays a small but critically important part in our contemporary resource industry, and in successfully bringing online major projects offering thousands of job opportunities throughout the community,’ he explained.
Knott also said that it is a myth that all the skilled people needed in the resources industry can be found locally, adding that 92% of new mining jobs do go to Australians but the rest is filled by overseas workers. ‘It is vitally important however that accessing skilled migration programmes does not become more costly and complex, or delay projects that create much needed jobs for thousands of Australians. Everyone involved in policy and debate on this issue needs to have access to the full facts, including the importance of accessing overseas skills in industries facing skills shortages,’ he added.