Reforms flagged for skilled migrant visas

A report on Australia's temporary skilled migration visas has been conducted by industrial relations expert Barbara Deegan recommending temporary skilled workers be guaranteed market wages rather than a minimum salary.

A report on Australia’s temporary skilled migration visas has been conducted by industrial relations expert Barbara Deegan recommending temporary workers be guaranteed market wages rather than a minimum salary.

Released recently by Federal Immigration Minister Chris Evans, the report could affect Australia’s mining industry, which employs significant numbers of workers on 457 visas.

The 457 visa is an uncapped program driven by labour market demand which enables employers to sponsor workers to fill nominated positions for up to four years.

The report is designed to address fears that the scheme has been used more as a source of cheap labour rather than skilled workers.

Other recommendations include profiling employers according to risk of exploitation, 457 visa holders be limited to eight years in Australia and employers make greater use of labour agreements to prevent mistreatment of workers.

According to Evans, the report will help to inform the Government’s reforms to the skilled migration program in 2009.

“We are closely assessing the report and decisions to implement individual recommendations will be taken as part of our budget process,” he said.

“The visa scheme is an important source of skilled labour in Australian industries with skills shortages, and demand will continue.

“The Rudd Government is committed to ensuring the subclass 457 visa scheme operates as effectively as possible in continuing the supply of skilled labour where needed, while protecting the employment and training opportunities of Australians and the rights of overseas workers.”

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