In a number of recent speeches, the Hon Shayne Neumann MP, Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, has shared some thoughts about the temporary skilled visa program, and the changes that Labor might implement if elected to Government at the forthcoming election.
Overall, the Shadow Minister has announced the need to reform the temporary skilled visa program, introduced almost two years ago by the Turnbull Government. He has expressed concern that “there are about 1.6 million temporary visa holders with work rights in Australia, with too many employers turning to temporary work visas in an attempt to undercut local jobs, wages and conditions”.
Some of the Shadow Minister’s specific intentions and commitments include:
- establish a new independent labour market testing body, the Australian Skills Authority, to determine “genuine skills needs and restrict temporary work visas to only those areas of genuine need” and to advise the Government of future skills shortages;
- invest further in TAFE and higher education as “there is no excuse for a skills shortage to last one day longer than it takes to train an Australian to do that job”;
- abolish the Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) and Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) and replace these lists with one Skills Shortage Occupations List with pathways to permanent residence;
- maintain if not strengthen Labour Market Testing provisions;
- establish a new four year SMART visa with a pathway to permanent residence for world leaders in science, medicine, academia, research and technology;
- abolish the Government’s proposal to privatise Australia’s visa processing system; and
- review the recommendations of the Migrant Workers’ Taskforce and implement the recommendations carefully and appropriately, including the introduction of very significant civil penalties for intentional systemic underpayment of employees.
Shadow Minister Neumann has promised a more consultative and considered approach to policy making.
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