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Australian PM defends tightening of working visa norms

PTI Melbourne | Updated on March 12, 2018

Defending her stand on tightening of working visa norms, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said that her case for a crackdown on 457 visa rules will ensure that jobs of the country go first to the local inhabitants.

Gillard said that she will try to ensure Australia does not go down on a path where at one end, youths are deprived of training due to huge cutting of skill development funds, while on the other hand, temporary workers are looked upon to fill this manpower crisis.

“The Labour Government is putting in place a package of reforms to ensure that temporary skilled workers only come from overseas when there is genuinely no local worker who can fill the job,” she was quoted as saying in an ABC report.

Gillard was speaking in Canberra at the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) Community Summit.

Hiring in IT sector

She also criticised the IT industry for overusing the 457 visa to recruit overseas workers where the jobs could otherwise be taken up by Australian citizens.

Gillard was quoted by a media report as saying that the use of visas to temporarily employ overseas workers was growing much faster than the growth in employment in Australia — 20 per cent year-on-year compared with one per cent employment growth year-on-year.

The IT industry was the worst offender, Gillard said.

Pointing out that the IT industry brought in 5,800 temporary workers in just seven months, where there were just 4,500 Australian IT undergraduates in 2011, Gillard said the trend is not acceptable.

“The number of people coming here to fill short-term gaps should not be growing 20 times faster than employment overall,” she said.

Visa programme

The Prime Minister said that there will be changes to the visa programme, which will include requiring employers to demonstrate that they are not nominating positions where a genuine shortage doesn’t exist.

The other requirements include ramping up the English language requirement for a number of positions, raising the market salary cap exemption from A$1,80,000 to A$2,50,000 and stopping employers who routinely abuse the 457 visa system.

457 visa

The 457 visa is the most commonly used programme for employers to hire temporarily sponsor skilled overseas workers to work in the country.

Visa holders are generally employed for up to three months to four years and are also allowed to bring an eligible family members to Australia, and those family members have unrestricted work and study rights.

Over 1,05,000 450 visa holders were in Australia as of January 2013, which is an increase of 22.4 per cent since January 2012.

Published on March 14, 2013

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