A new review of the 457 migrant visa program was announced last week, but trade unions have not been invited to the party, claiming the review panel is “stacked”.
In an interview with Sky News last Wednesday, immigration minister Scott Morrison said recent changes to the approval requirements for businesses applying to hire migrant workers were intended for regulation reduction and “removing the red tape that was put there by the previous government”.
“What it involves is that when someone has already been approved to be a sponsor of 457s rather than having to go back and fill out all the paperwork again to have that renewed when they have reached a certain number of employees they can continue to do it but every single 457 employee who has been employed must satisfy all the tests that are currently required for finding an Australian do the job first,” Morrison said.
“What it means is if they want to employ someone on 457s they need to satisfy all the advertising tests and all of the tests of finding an Australian worker first and if they can't find an Australian worker then we are not going to make them go back and fill out a whole bunch more forms which costs them time and money for their business.”
Changes already made to the program by the Abbott Government in February included removing the cap on business nominations for skilled migrants, which trade unions have said deliberately reopened a loophole which can lead to exploitation of foreign workers at the expense of jobs for Australian citizens.
Unions have not been invited to join the legislative review panel, which is comprised by John Azarias of Deloitte Australia, Peter McDonald of Australian National University, Katie Malyon of Ernst and Young and Jenny Lambert of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Australian Workers' Union assistant national secretary Scott McDine said it was ''incomprehensible'' that you could have a review of 457 visas and exclude trade unions from the process.
''These secretive changes come on the back of the government's announced review, which has been stacked to deliver a predetermined outcome that will hurt Australian workers,'' McDine said.
Australian Mines and Minerals Association executive director Scott Barklamb has accused unions of using scare tactics.
''The resource industry is not a large user of skilled migrants, but we do welcome any move to ensure that when employers do need to access overseas skilled labour, they can do so through an efficient and responsive system,'' Barklamb said.