Last night Sky News Australia hosted the second leader’s debate between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott. A question was asked to the two men on their stances on 457 visa holders going into the next term of government. Kevin Rudd answered the question first, pointing to Labour Market Testing (LMT) as being necessary to ‘ensure businesses properly test market labour conditions’ before making a hiring decision. He did inaccurately say that this has already commenced (by saying ‘now all employers are required to undertake that market testing’) when in-fact DIAC are going through the process of consultation on its specifics and it isn’t due to commence until November.
Tony Abbott’s response was right in suggesting that the previous minister (Chris Bowen) found no such fault with the 457 system 12 months earlier, but did agree with Kevin Rudd that there should be some form of labour market testing. He also made the further comment that foreigners coming on 457 visas are also required to be paid the same as the local market wage. This is a key point and contrary to some claims. Businesses are required to prove that they are paying their 457 visa holders no less than they would pay a local in the same position, which you can find our more information on here. Tony Abbott also commented that 457 visa holders coming and paying tax from day one are not stealing our jobs but are rather ‘helping to build our country’. Tony Abbott further commented that he fully supports the 457 system and said that ‘if there is a fault, lets find it and fix it’ but was concerned about demonising skilled migration to Australia. He also made the comment that “it is a good system and fully in accordance with the heroic tradition of this country; to welcome people from the four corners of the earth who want to join our team. Who want to be lifters and not leaners.”
It was good to see the topic raised at this public forum. The majority of immigration news in the media recently has been about asylum policy and very little has been spoken about our policies on skilled migration – policies that affect Australian businesses.