More data needs to be made available about the amount of temporary workers from overseas in Australia and how long they have been in the country, according to a Senate committee report.

The report from the education and employment standing committee makes 33 recommendations and calls for an overhaul of the Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration (MACSM).

Indeed, it suggest that the MACSM should be more independent and better funded, and undertake the much anticipated review of the working holiday visa programmes.


People from overseas can work in Australia on a temporary basis with a number of visa options including working holiday visas, 457 visa and sponsorship from an Australian employer.

But there has been a lot of concerns raised that many are exploited in terms of not being paid the correct wage or paying fees to employment hire companies that are beyond acceptable.

Among these concerns was that workers from overseas can be coerced into accepting certain conditions and become frightened to speak out. The Senate committee report recommends that people who approach the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) should be dealt with in a manner where they feel able to voice their complaints safely.

It also suggests changes to the Migration Act and Fair Work Act to make sure workers who breach their visa conditions do not automatically lose their jobs and ensuring workers can pursue claims against employers or labour hire companies even once their visa has expired.

The report; A National Disgrace: The Exploitation of Temporary Work Visa Holders, also tackles the issue of hiring overseas workers to the detriment of local workers. It says both should be given the same weight in job applications but employers hiring from abroad should not have discouraged local workers.

It goes as far as recommending that Australian employers who hire professional foreign workers on subclass 457 visas should also be required to also employ an Australian tertiary graduate in the same enterprise on a one for one basis.

And companies hiring skilled trades workers on 457s should be required to demonstrate that 25% of their trades workers are apprentices.

These recommendations amount to a tightening of rules for employer sponsors, which currently need only to look for workers in Australia and certify a foreign worker has a trade or skill in shortage.

The committee also recommended a licencing regime for labour hire contractors so that they can show compliance with all workplace, employment, tax, and superannuation laws in order to gain a licence.