News National Offshore worker scheme too generous, Dutton admits

Offshore worker scheme too generous, Dutton admits

Kitchen staff are highly sought after on 457 visas. Photo: Getty
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The list of jobs that overseas workers can fill using 457 visas is set to be cut by the Australian government, a week after The New Daily revealed that almost any skilled job could be taken by an overseas worker.

On Sunday, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton indicated the government would cut the list of occupations for which skilled migrant visas were available.

Mr Dutton revealed that the list – which includes more than 650 occupations – was under review and many of the professions for which there was an adequate supply of local workers could be removed.

The 457 visa is granted to foreign workers for four years and is designed to fill positions that are difficult to find Australians for.

peter dutton
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is reviewing 457 visas. Photo: AAP

There are a range of different occupations on the list from different salary levels and different education backgrounds, including neurologists, midwives, cabinet makers and lift mechanics.

Australian workers ‘should get priority’

But Labor wants more measures to push Australians into those jobs instead of employees from overseas, to help the 700,000 people who are unemployed and 1.1 million who are under-employed.

Opposition spokesman for employment Brendan O’Connor told the ABC the use of the visa was hurting Australian workers.

“Too often we’re seeing exploitation, abuse and the overuse and misuse of that visa means downward pressure on wages,” he said.

“That’s why we have almost a wage recession in this country.”

Mr Dutton, however, said that while the list was “expansive” it served an important purpose for businesses outside the capital cities which often found it harder to attract staff with the necessary skills.

“It is very hard to get people in regional areas,” he said.

‘Open to rorting’

Last week, a legal expert speaking to The New Daily revealed that employers only needed to post a single ad on Facebook to satisfy the criteria for applying for a 457 visa.

University of Adelaide senior law lecturer Dr Joanna Howe, who has researched 457 visas extensively, described the scheme’s rules as “farcical” and said they fall “woefully short” of international best practice.

“There’s a real disjuncture between the official goal of the 457 visa, which is to meet genuine skill shortages in the Australian labour market, and the way the regulatory framework is set up to address this,” Dr Howe told The New Daily.

Labour hire companies advertise work on farms and factories in Victoria.
Labour hire companies advertise work on farms and factories in Victoria. Photo: AAP

Labor wants every business applying to use a 457 visa for a temporary skilled migrant to first advertise locally for at least four weeks.

It also wants to force a business to do that every four months if it is looking for new staff, instead of the current 12-month window.

According to the Immigration Department, cooks were the most popular profession applied for by primary visa holders – those who directly applied for a 457 visa – followed by those wanting to fill cafe/restaurant manager positions.

-with agencies

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