The House of Representatives recently passed The Migration Amendment (Temporary Sponsored Visas) 2013 Bill.
The bill requires sponsors participating in the Temporary Sponsored Work Visa Program to undertake labour marketing testing, provide enforceable undertakings between the minister and sponsors, and allow Fair Work inspectors to monitor compliance.
It also stipulates the requirements that must be met by sponsors, and extends the period in which particular visa holders may seek new sponsored employment.
Jenny Lambert, director of employment, education and training at Australian Chamber of Commerce & industry (ACCI) stated that the bill was problematic – punishing many for the mistakes of few. “It gives the Minister the power to shut down the skills pipeline to certain industries,” she said.
“Former Minister O'Connor was not able to point to any evidence of mass abuses,” Ron Kessels, special counsel at Fragonmen, said. “The current requirements on sponsors are working well and 457 visa use depends completely on the economic climate and unemployment.”
“Prime Minister Rudd is not off to a good start on the commitment he made [26 June] to re-engage with business,” Wilhelm Harnisch, CEO of Master Builders Australia, added.
While not in agreement with the changes, Kessels sees where the supporters are coming from. “It is hard to argue against a simple proposition that says that jobs should go to Australians first. This has instant appeal,” he said. “However, this fails to look at Australia as part of the global economy … how can we be part of a world economy yet deny entry to the world’s best talent?”
Lambert stated that if enacted the bill would “seriously restrict the ability of employers to efficiently fill gaps with skilled workers, especially professional health workers and skilled trades workers not found in some regions or parts of the economy”.
Further concerns were raised by Lambert over the speed at which the bill has been passed. She sees the demand for a late-night vote in the Senate as “abuse of parliamentary process borne from a political agenda”.
“Skilled workers are the cornerstone of industry and the productive powerhouse of the Australian economy. At a time when we should be doing all we can to ensure that business has the skills it needs to work efficiently and productively, government is making it increasing difficult to fill gaps in skilled labour supply,” said Lambert.
What are your views on the amendments?