Construction of a workers’ village has made solid progress on Curtis island.
Construction of a workers’ village has made solid progress on Curtis island. Brenda Strong

'Stop these rorts': Loopholes cost locals jobs

THE lack of transparency about how occupations wind up on the skill-shortage lists for 457 workers visas has raised concerns about undue influence.

This week's federal government report on migrant intake noted the system "creates scope for vested interests to unduly influence (the consolidated sponsored occupations list's) composition".

There are more than 600 occupations on the list, from doctors, nurses and surgeons to bricklayers, plumbers, fitters and turners, gas fitters, welders and electricians.

The report highlighted the process for adding occupations to the list and that a limit should be added to how many visas were issued.

"The Australian Government has supported these recommendations and their implementation is expected to lead to better identification of occupations (and regions) where shortages do exist," the report read.

With about 190,000 temporary 457 visa workers in Australia, the isue was key for Labor during the recent federal election.

Labor ran an "Aussie jobs first. Stop the foreign 457 visa rorts. At this election, put Ken O'Dowd, Mr Turnbull last" campaign.

Following the release of the report, Labor senator Anthony Chisholm said member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd was not doing enough.

"Mr O'Dowd has been asleep at the wheel on this issue whilst locals are missing out," he said.

"Mr O'Dowd needs to get Prime Minister Turnbull to take action to stop these rorts."

But Mr O'Dowd said Labor's 457s campaign was "interesting" as there were more 457 visas under the previous Federal Labor government.

"While it may seem 457 visa holders take jobs from locals, many of our employers simply couldn't operate without the 457 (and similar) visa programs, leading to greater unemployment," he said.

"I often discuss the issue of foreign workers with abattoir operators and their response assures me that any 'Aussie' who turns up and wants a job gets one.

"Despite this, the number of those applying and sticking at these difficult jobs is minimal."



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