457 News roundup

Yet again this week, it’s the 457 Visas which have been hitting the headlines. Since Brendan O’Conner, the Minister for Immigration, outlined his intention to crackdown on 457 visas earlier this year, there’s been a steady conveyor of individuals & organisations determined to have their say on the matter. This week, in the red corner, we have the Transport Workers Union who is demanding the government crackdown even harder on 457 Visas. The TWU want a change in the law, so that companies that have made workers unemployed in the last 12 months are prohibited from seeking to employ overseas migrants for at least 1 year. The TWU are also calling for stronger sanctions and more onerous sponsorship costs to apply for 457 visas; a legislated minimum timeframe for employers to advertise for jobs domestically; a public register naming companies that use 457 workers and how many they have; extra restrictions on importing “semi-skilled” foreign workers; and for whistleblower laws to protect 457 visa-holders who report “unscrupulous” employers from retribution. On top of this, the TWU wants employers to be required to tell migrants before they even depart their home country that they have the right to participate in a trade union and how they can contact them.

On the other side of the coin, one of Australia’s leading cyber security experts says Australia needs 457 visas and the 457 visa debate threatens Australia’s cyber preparedness. Carlo Minassian, whose company Earthwave protects Australian government and corporate systems, says we need a rethink of cyber defence education immediately. “Around the world we see major players, like the US and Europe, building up their ranks of cybersecurity talent. Corporates are doing the same. Australia simply does not have enough home-grown cybersecurity talent to protect our country. We must import it, while simultaneously cultivating it here on our own soil.” Earlier this year Minassian made a public call for a unified civil cyber defence approach to protect critical Australian infrastructure, said that the political debate was out of step with market reality. He believes a growing number of potential employers are competing for a severely limited number of top tier cybersecurity talent. “There is a finite global pool of these people. Even without 457 visa uncertainty we risk missing out because of our distance from larger markets,” Minassian says.

“We just saw the US enter the recruitment market in a huge way by more than quadrupling the size of their cyber command by 4,000 technical personnel. US defence officials recently acknowledged that they will be hard pressed to find the talent. If the US, which is like a giant sponge sucking up all this talent, is going to find it difficult, where do you think that leaves Australia?”

Elsewhere this week, it is being reported that the goverment are considering a A ”GENUINENESS” test for foreign workers on 457 visas as it contemplates expanding a crackdown. The test, if adopted, would be applied through a criteria aimed at preventing 457s being used to fill unskilled positions or as a back door way to move family and friends to Australia. If the ”genuineness” criteria was adopted a visa applicant could be scrutinised about ”whether the nomination is genuine in circumstances where the nominee is a relation or personal associate of an owner or relevant person of the sponsoring business.” Businesses could also be required to account for the number of 457 visa holders after previously businesses who had intended to sponsor a small number of workers then employed hundreds.

Over in Western Australia, the WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Peter Anderson has weighed into the 457 debate, with regards the federal govt’s  “extreme claim” that 10,000 workers were involved in rorts.

“It sounds very inflammatory and exaggerated,” he said.

“It sounds more like a nice round figure plucked from the air.”

WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief James Pearson also questioned the claim, saying the Immigration Department had told the Government’s skilled migration advisory council, of which he is a member, that just 1 to 3 per cent of visa holders featured in rorts.

“We must not tarnish a scheme that is working very well across the country when to date there has been little evidence of rorts,” he said.

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