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457 Visas, National Environmental Law: Lib vs Labor

We have recently had a number of articles about 457 visas and also about feared changes to the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act ( EPBC). Currently the Business Council of Australia is making a fuss about where the government is going with this and the mass media is supporting them and generally giving Ms Gillard unseemly treatment - so we may assume that there is a chance that the Gillard Government is up to some good.

The Financial Review on 14 June 2013 ran a front page article that the 'BCA slams last gasp legislation'.

"The Business Council of Australia is pleading with independents and the Senate to consider the national interest and reject the last minute frenzy of 'anti-business' legislation being rushed through the final days of Parliament."

[Noting that it was] " ...particularly concerned about planned changes to the system of 457 temporary visas for skilled workers and amendments to make it illegal for the federal government to effectively hand over its environmental approval powers to state governments."

So, what's going on?

Changes proposed to 457 visas:

· Employers must demonstrate that they are not nominating positions where a genuine shortage does not exist;

· The English language requirements for certain positions have been raised;

· The enforceability of existing training requirements for businesses that use the program will be strengthened;

· The market salary exemption will rise from $180,000 to $250,000;

· On-hire arrangements of 457 Visa workers will be banned;

· Compliance and enforcement powers will be beefed up to deal with employers who have abused the 457 system; and

· Stakeholders will be consulted to ensure market rate provisions more effectively protect local employment

The Liberal Opposition is opposing these measures.

Preventing States from taking over Federal Environmental powers

In relation to the environment, the Labor Government is wants to maintain the Commonwealth’s environmental standards under Commonwealth law and policy, retaining its overall responsibility for protecting matters of national environmental significance.

If States get control of the environment as well as over water and land, which they already have, then we can expect the same vandalism currently tearing Queensland apart under the Campbell Newman State Government.

Comments

With permanent overseas migration at record levels, justified by the chronic shortage of skills in Australia, why do we also need so many temporary skilled migrants? With unemployment expected to increase, and businesses going offshore, we have to wonder why and where these shortages are. With a government being dominated by business demands for quick results and compliant, cheaper labour, it's clear that our borders have been made open for their convenience.
If our skilled migration program was really delivering skills where they were needed, and targeted to fill the shortages, we wouldn't need the uncapped temporary foreign workers.
About half of the skilled migrants settle in the urban areas of Sydney and Melbourne, not necessarily where their skills are urgently needed.
By using foreign labourers to plug in skill shortages, any genuine need for providing skills will continue as the urgency for TAFE and university training will be thwarted. Foreign skilled workers could, in the long term, create more skill shortages in the future.
With record levels of youth unemployment, and excessive fees for tertiary education, these can only get worse if our government continues with their foot on the immigration-accelerator.

For the sake of completion, I thought it may be useful to add the list of proposed changes:
Changes proposed to 457 visas:

· Employers must demonstrate that they are not nominating positions where a genuine shortage does not exist;

· The English language requirements for certain positions have been raised;

· The enforceability of existing training requirements for businesses that use the program will be strengthened;

· The market salary exemption will rise from $180,000 to $250,000;

· On-hire arrangements of 457 Visa workers will be banned;

· Compliance and enforcement powers will be beefed up to deal with employers who have abused the 457 system; and

· Stakeholders will be consulted to ensure market rate provisions more effectively protect local employment

The Liberal Opposition is opposing these measures.
A Couple of Q's:

1. Would they, for example, enable a 'local' 'Chef' to be considered/employed as a Specialist Tandoori Chef?

2. And would any 'Specialist Tandoori Chef' ultimately employed be required to have food safety training to an acceptable standard?

3. Will there be improved supervision of the regulations.

4. I read an Oz report, that employers are worried about costs of implementing the new regulations, so my question would be:

Will anyone calculate the National cost of the current free for all?