New figures reveal that abuse of Australia’s 457 temporary visa system may not be anywhere near as high as some reports suggest.
On Monday, migration and visa policy division official Kruno Kukoc told a Senate estimates committee that 170 sponsors had been formally sanctioned in the ten months to April – up from 93 in the same period last year. In total there were 29,100 active sponsors in this period.
Last month, the country’s Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor suggested there were10,000 foreign workers currently in Australia on temporary 457 visas should not be there. However, Department of Immigration and Citizenship secretary Martin Bowles yesterday confirmed the department gave no specific advice to Mr O’Connor to the effect that the scheme might have been used illegitimately more than 10,000 times.
That said, the secretary did note that there were examples of industries and regions in which strong growth in 457 visa use came at the same time as a softening in the local labour market.
Business groups have been highly critical of the Australian government’s attempts in recent months to place tighter restrictions on companies which look to bring in workers from overseas. The government argues that this system is being misused by many employers who are bringing in cheap foreign labour at the expense of employing Australians, while business leaders maintain that this isn’t the case and that overseas workers are a necessity in many industries.
However, Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) who once again have stated in the past few days that the 457 visa scheme needs to be changed to stop mining companies flying in cheaper foreign labour at the expense of Australian workers.
“A third of the local workforce in a regional community [Boggabri in northern New South Wales] has lost their jobs overnight, yet temporary overseas workers have been retained,” CFMEU national secretary Dave Noonan said. “There is something seriously wrong with the current system.”
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship is currently working on an agreement with the Fair Work Ombudsman on how they will work together to investigate 457 visa misuse from 1st July.