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Business and Coalition reject fears over 457 visas

By Jared Owens, The Australian

BUSINESS and the Coalition have dismissed concerns about the relaxation of subclass 457 visa rules as “simply more union scare” amid opposition claims the reform will lead to abuse and exploitation.

On February 14 the government removed the penalties for businesses that hire more foreign staff on temporary skilled worker visas than they initially applied for, removing the ceiling imposed by Labor last July.

There was evidence at the time that some employers had hired hundreds more temporary workers than their official estimates.

Opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles warned the temporary visas risked becoming “a mechanism to replace Australian jobs”.

“The Coalition calls this removing ‘red tape’ — what it really means is scrapping a safeguard to prevent our visa system being abused and exploited,” he said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told Perth radio 6PR the change was concerning in the context of “increasing unemployment at a time when there’s a lot of adults who would like retraining, at a time when the Abbott government’s cutting back on trades training centres in schools”.

But Immigration Minister Scott Morrison defended the change as “quite minor”, saying employers would still be required to “satisfy all the tests” to prove they have sought local workers.

But he said, “If they can’t find an Australia worker then we are not going to make them go back and fill out a whole lot more forms which cost them time and money and their business.”

The Australian Mines and Metals Association stressed businesses viewed the visas as “a last resort to offset skills shortages”, incurring an average upfront cost of about $14,000 extra per imported worker.

It is understood subclass 457 visas approved between July 2013 and February 2014 will cease if the nomination ceiling is reached.

Article Source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/business-coalition-reject-fears-over-457-visas/story-fn59noo3-1226852975017#


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