By Robert Williams
In a speech given at the McKell Institute, the Leader of the Opposition,Bill Shorten has vowed to ramp up the fees for controversial temporary work visas (such as the 457) in a bid to make sure Australian employers firstly seek to employ local workers before turning their attention overseas.
At the same time, Bill Shorten also pledged to establish and implement a new visa to ensure Australia remains an attractive proposition for the 'best and brightest' talent.
In the speech, Labor has promised not to ratify any trade deals that forgo labour market testing and they have also pledged to establish an independent labour market testing body that would restrict temporary workers’ visas to skills shortages.
These announcements come less than a month after the Prime Minister announced plans to abolish the 457 visa in March 2018 and replace it with the new Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) Visa in addition to slashing over 200 occupations from the list of eligble skilled occupations. "We’ll no longer let 457 visas be passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians”, commented the PM at the time.
However, the Leader of the Opposition said the Federal Govt's changes were a "con job".
“Malcolm Turnbull’s proposed changes to 457 visas are little more than a con job that barely make a difference,”
“Under the Liberals, too many local workers are being left at the back of the queue for local jobs.” said Bill Shorten.
Under the opposition's plan, the cost of a 2 year visa would sore from $575 AUD a year to approximately $1,600 AUD per year or $6,400 AUD for the 4 year visa.
This change would represent an increase to 3% of the temporary skilled migration income threshold, with the additional funds raised being directed to a training fund.
Describing the policy, Bill Shorten said “This is a strong price signal to employers that they should be looking for local workers first,”
“Under Labor, putting local workers first won’t just be fairer – it will be cheaper.”
Running along side this, Labor would roll out a new “Smart” visa for what it calls world leaders in science, medicine, academia, research and technology to ensure highly skilled migrants were still attracted to Australia.
An Australian Skills Authority would have a remit for producing a single skills shortage occupations list and advise the government of the day on current skills shortages and future skills requirements.