Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin.
Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin. Cathy Adams

Labor's proposed changes to 457 visa system in doubt

JANELLE Saffin says temporary overseas work visas are being used effectively in Page but maintains the government's proposed reforms of the system are necessary to ensure unemployed people are given every chance to find work.

Labor's proposed changes to the 457 visa system, including rules that would require employers to prove they have first tried to hire Australian workers, looked in doubt on Thursday as independent MP Rob Oakeshott told the Parliament he would not be supporting the legislation.

Other independents Tony Windsor and Peter Slipper have not indicated how they will vote.

During debate on Thursday Ms Saffin said the bill was needed to address clear problems with the system and to strike the right balance.

"Someone on the other side can stand here and say everything is working and it is hunky dory but that is just simply not true," Ms Saffin said.

"If you look in the Migration Council report the survey results show that employers are still recruiting under the 457 system for temporary overseas workers despite saying they have had no problem finding labour locally."

But she also used her speech to highlight how the system was working in her electorate, using the Northern Co-operative Meat Company as an example.

The abattoir employs overseas workers temporarily on 457 visas while recruiting and training local people.

She said this investment was already "paying off" with Aboriginal people and the long-term unemployed landing stable jobs.

"I put that up because that is a bit of a model for people to look at to see how they should work," she said.

"Everything I have read, all the figures, all the reports I have looked at show that that is not the case right across Australia. If that were the case right across Australia, we would not need to be here with the amending bill."

Ms Saffin said employers in Page were already undertaking labour market testing in nominated non-graduate occupations, but conceded it was not being done in all parts of the country.

She said even though people in her electorate were not opposed to the use of 457 visas for certain jobs, the changes would reassure them the government had their best interests in mind.

"We have to do the recalibration and make sure the integrity of the system is there so that each and every member can confidently say to our communities, 'We're doing he best we can by you and by those people who are unemployed and underemployed to make sure you've got every opportunity for training and recruitment'," she said.

"We have to see that the employers are doing that, and then we can recruit and bring the people in on the 457 visas and have temporary overseas workers."

Debate on the bill, which the Coalition opposes, was adjourned.



Splendour's questions answered

Splendour's questions answered

Festival Q & A, hosted by Tony Jones, hits big topics.

A blues alchemy

A blues alchemy

Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite produce a Splendour special

Splendour from the sky: rescue chopper shares festival view

Splendour from the sky: rescue chopper shares festival view

Splendour punters might have been concerned by rescue chopper

Local Partners