The Coalition has vowed to follow through on its promise to cut what it calls ‘union red tape’ on 457 visas, with the ABC reporting it has lifted the cap on sponsors introduced by the former Labor government.
Last month, Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Michaelia Cash announced an independent review of the 457 programme, which she said would be aimed at ‘maintaining the integrity of 457’s, without placing unnecessary administrative burdens on businesses.’
The changes are expected to allow employers to be allowed to hire an unlimited number of 457 workers provided they meet all the relevant criteria, including the necessary nomination, sponsorship and visa conditions.
However unions maintain that the cap is necessary given the current economic climate. In an interview with the ABC, Dave Noonan of the CFMEU said whilst the unions support a strong migration program, they are concerned about the swing towards temporary migration over permanent visas.
“What we are seeing is massive job losses in Australian manufacturing, and in mining, construction and services and at the same time the government is opening the flood gates for a larger number of temporary overseas workers,” he said.
Mr Noonan also stated that whilst the union movement supported a strong migration program, they believe the shift to temporary migration will have negative consequences for Australian workers, and leaves temporary migrants vulnerable to exploitation.
Managing Director from Migration Solutions, Mark Glazbrook, defended the necessity of the 457 program for Australian businesses, but agreed that the program’s integrity must be upheld.
‘The 457 program is a responsive mechanism specifically designed to address immediate skills vacancies where they exist from within the local labour market. Ensuring that businesses have access to a streamlined application process is critical,’ he said.
‘However, equally important is ensuring that businesses are not breaching sponsorship obligations and that the relevant occupations listed in a 457 visa are consistent with the end employment.
‘It is vitally important that the integrity of this program is enhanced, however, not at the expense of streamlined processing.’