Collier attacked over his Irish work visa claims

Federal immigration minister Chris Bowen has come out swinging against WA training minister Peter Collier claims of Federal obstruction for work visas.

Earlier in the week Collier blamed the Federal Governments visa processing program for the failure of a program to bring 150 000 skilled Irish workers temporarily to WA.

Collier lead a delegation to Ireland last year to try and recruit skilled workers to meet the predicted 450 000 labour shortfall.

However Ciaran Cannon, Ireland’s training and skills minister, wrote Collier last month and stated that Australia’s current visa requirements were "one of the major obstacles preventing skilled Irish workers from taking up positions" in the State.

Collier stated that they had attempted to bypass these problems by using 457 sponsored visas.

However despite this the Federal Government still ignored requests from WA to relax entry conditions, Collier added.

"Unless the Federal Government shows some flexibility and foresight with regard to our labour force needs . . . projects in WA are seriously at risk," he said.

Bowen has now come out saying that Collier was "making undeliverable promises beyond his jurisdiction".

He went on to say that "Mr. Collier seemed unable to grasp the basic principles of skilled migration and failed to recognise the significance of recent changes for WA.

"The statistics clearly show that the 457 visa program is working extremely well for WA, which accounts for over 34 per cent of growth in the demand-driven and uncapped program.

"Last year the Federal Government announced a raft of new migration measures to help tackle skills shortages, including increasing the Skilled Migration program by 12,000 places and introducing Enterprise Migration Agreements (EMAs) for major resource projects, many of which will be inevitably be in WA.

"In addition, under the State Migration Plan, WA holds over a quarter of all places in the program and together with Victoria has the largest number of places allocated to any state or territory.

Bowen added that only last week he announced reforms to streamline the path way to permanent residency for 457 visa holders.

Collier claimed that these changes was simply "tinkering around the edges," according to The West Australian.

He went on to say reject Bowen’s statements.

"I’m well within my rights to go out there and talk with other nations in terms of skilled workers," he said.

"We would not have had to be over there had there been much more identifiable and flexible (Federal) processes in place."

Bowen stated that “the Federal Government works cooperatively with other states on a range of migration issues, which is something Mr Collier may want to consider in future".

 

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