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Businesses to be charged yearly Foreign Worker Levy

As expected, the federal govt used yesterday’s budget to outline its plans to abolish the 457 visa and replace the scheme with short and medium-term streams.

Application fees for the short-term, two year visas will increase by $90 to $1150, while four-year visa applications will cost $2400 apiece.

In addition to this, companies will also be charged annual foreign worker levies.

Under the existing scheme, employers have contributed one of two per cent of their payroll to training if they employed foreign workers.

But as the requirements have proved almost impossible to police the govt is taking a different route.

From March 2018, businesses that employ foreign workers on certain skilled visas will be required to pay money into a “Skilling Australians” fund.

Companies turning over less than $10 million per year must make an upfront payment of $1200 (per visa, per year) for each employee on a temporary visa.

They must also make a one-off payment of $3000 for each staffer sponsored for a permanent skilled worker visas.

Businesses with turnovers above $10 million will be required to make up front payments of $1800 for each worker on temporary visas and $5000 one-off levies for those on permanent skilled visas.

The levy is expected to rake in $1.2 billion over the next four years, which will be funnelled into a new Commonwealth-State skills fund.

“States and territories will only be able to draw on this fund when they deliver on their commitments to train new apprentices,” Mr Morrison said in his budget speech.

School leavers competing with influx of backpackers for work

A recent study by the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University has found that Australia now has 1 foreign backpacker for every Year 12 school leaver – all competing for entry-level jobs in retailing, construction and hospitality.

WORK-hungry backpackers are flocking Down Under to work in record numbers, and competing for jobs with local school-leavers.

New immigration data reveals a one-third surge in the number of foreigners granted “working holiday” visas since the start of the global financial crisis.

The Immigration Department issued a record 249,231 backpacker visas during 2012/13, latest official data shows.

Three times as many young backpackers from China, Italy and Taiwan were granted visas during 2012/13 than at the start of the global financial crisis in 2008/09.

Backpacker numbers have jumped 52 per cent from France, 29 per cent from Germany and 15 per cent from the UK.

The visas are popular with employers in regional areas, who rely on foreign backpackers to pick fruit, work on farms, clean hotels, pour beers and wait tables.

But the university study claims the working holiday-makers, aged 18 to 30, are taking entry-level jobs that could go to Australian school leavers.

“(Backpackers) coming from these countries are not the traditional holiday and work seekers, but rather job-hungry migrants anxious to maximise their income from work here,” the report says.

“In effect, the Australian economy is acting as a safety valve for the youth unemployment problems of other countries, at the expense of its own young people’s employment prospects.”

Australia now hosts nearly half a million working-age migrants who have arrived since 2011 on permanent or temporary visas.

“Recently arrived migrants …. are dominating the growth in the number of employed persons in Australia,” the report says.

“Young people have to compete for less skilled entry-level work with an increasing number of job-hungry temporary migrants looking for the same work.”

The report says the number of recently-arrived migrants of working age jumped by 168,700 during the 12 months to May this year – and 108,200 were working.

New migrants accounted for 85 per cent of the 126,900 total increase in the number of workers in Australia during the year.

“This means that almost all of the recent net growth in employment is attributable to recently-arrived migrants,” the report says.

The report says 14.5 per cent of 15-to-19-year-old jobseekers, and 9.4 per cent of those aged 20-24 were unemployed in May, compared to 5.6 per cent in the general population.

Backpackers from 29 nations can work in Australia for up to a year, so long as they do not spend more than six months with each employer.

Those who spend at least three months working in a remote area can apply to stay for a second year.

Australian backpackers can also work overseas in the same countries, under reciprocal agreements.

Argentina and Uruguay were added to the working holiday program this year, and the federal government is negotiating with 13 more countries including Greece, Spain, Mexico, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Israel and Vietnam.

Overseas workers on 457 visas rise 20 percent over past year

Data released today show the number of overseas workers coming to Australia on 457 visas has jumped more than 20 per cent over the past year.

Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Brendan O’Connor said the significant growth in the program highlighted the need for further reform.

‘There are now 108 810 457 visa holders – a 20.4 per cent growth in the 12 months to April 30. This is at a time when employment growth remains soft in some industries and regions,’ Mr O’Connor said.

‘A recent survey by the Migration Council revealed that 15 per cent of employers anonymously surveyed said they used 457 visas, although they could find appropriate local labour.

‘Increasingly we are seeing the misuse of the system by employers who are not making an effort to find local labour first, or who exploit overseas workers under this scheme, which is why the government will take further action to stop employers misusing the program.’

Mr O’Connor said the Gillard Government was committed to ensuring local workers were given local opportunities wherever possible.

‘Genuine skill shortages do exist in industries and locations right across Australia and we are attempting to ensure they get filled, while at the same time making sure locally skilled people don’t miss out on work,’ he said.

Mr O’Connor also announced the revised annual Skilled Occupation List (SOL), which reflected changes in skill shortage areas.

‘This list, designed to fill gaps in the workforce by attracting skilled migrants to Australia, no longer includes the skill categories of retail pharmacy and aircraft engineering,’ Mr O’Connor said.

‘The SOL is an important tool to meet demand for skills and includes a number of highly valued and skilled occupations across a range of industries including medical, engineering and mechanical services.

‘It’s important this list focusses on occupations in genuine need in the medium to long term and the up-to-date SOL maintains the government’s targeted approach to skilled migration.’

The SOL is based on the advice of the independent Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA) and applies to independent migrants seeking to come to Australia.

The SOL is available from the Department of Immigration of Citizenships (DIAC) website.

Asia now the leading source of permanent migrants to Australia

immi2011-12New report reaffirms the ‘Asian Century’.

According to Australia’s Migration Trends, a new report released today by the Minister for Immigration & Citizenship, Brendan O’Connor, Asia has become the  leading supplier of permanent skilled migrants to Australia

 

The report contains comprehensive analysis and commentary on migration activity for 2011-12, and provides a clear picture of substantial changes in the origins of Australia’s migrants, reflecting the trend towards an Asian Century.

For the first time, India and China were the two main source countries of permanent migrants.

‘Seven of the top 10 source countries in 2011-12 were located in the Asia region,’ Mr O’Connor said.

The substantial growth in overseas born residents is changing Australia’s ethnic composition.

In the past 15 years the number of China born Australian residents has more than tripled.

birthplaceThis growth rate was surpassed by the number of India born residents which increased fourfold over this same period.

Between 1996 and 2011, Australia’s overseas-born population grew by more than 40 per cent to reach six million. This was more than double the rate for the Australian-born population and is essential in addressing the demographic challenges of an ageing population,’ Mr O’Connor said.

‘With the government’s strong emphasis on skilled migration, this sort of growth is also crucial to ensuring depth in Australia’s labour force.

Mr O’Connor said patterns of migration are also changing.

‘In 2011-12, half of Australia’s skilled migrants applied while they were already living in Australia on a temporary visa. This was more than twice the rate of a decade earlier and reflects a growing trend of migrants seeing what Australia has to offer before making a commitment to settle permanently,’ Mr O’Connor said.

2013-2014 Australia Skilled Occupation List (SOL) released

Annual Update of Skilled Occupation List – 1 July 2013

The Skilled Occupation List

The Skilled Occupation List (SOL) will change from 1 July 2013, with five occupations to be removed. The SOL determines which occupations are eligible for independent and family sponsored skilled migration.

The updated SOL is based on expert advice from the Australian Workforce Productivity Agency (previously known as Skills Australia). The list of occupations reflects the Australian Government’s commitment to a skilled migration program that delivers skills in need in Australia. The SOL will continue to deliver a skilled migration program focused on high value skills that will help to address Australia’s future skill needs.

Summary of changes to the SOL

The following changes have been applied to the SOL.

Occupations removed from the SOL

ANZSCO CodeOccupation
251511Hospital Pharmacist
251513Retail Pharmacist
323111Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Avionics)
323112Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Mechanical)
323113Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Structures)

Occupations on the SOL from 1 July 2013

ANZSCO CodeOccupation
133111Construction Project Manager
133112Project Builder
133211Engineering Manager
133513Production Manager (Mining)
134111Child Care Centre Manager
134211Medical Administrator
134212Nursing Clinical Director
134213Primary Health Organisation Manager
134214Welfare Centre Manager
221111Accountant (General)
221112Management Accountant
221113Taxation Accountant
221213External Auditor
221214Internal Auditor
224111Actuary
224511Land Economist
224512Valuer
231212Ship’s Engineer
231213Ship’s Master
231214Ship’s Officer
232111Architect
232112Landscape Architect
232213Cartographer
232214Other Spatial Scientist
232212Surveyor
232611Urban and Regional Planner
233111Chemical Engineer
233112Materials Engineer
233211Civil Engineer
233212Geotechnical Engineer
233213Quantity Surveyor
233214Structural Engineer
233215Transport Engineer
233311Electrical Engineer
233411Electronics Engineer
233511Industrial Engineer
233512Mechanical Engineer
233513Production or Plant Engineer
233611Mining Engineer (Excluding Petroleum)
233612Petroleum Engineer
233911Aeronautical Engineer
233912Agricultural Engineer
233913Biomedical Engineer
233914Engineering Technologist
233915Environmental Engineer
233916Naval Architect
234111Agricultural Consultant
234112Agricultural Scientist
234113Forester
234611Medical Laboratory Scientist
234711Veterinarian
234912Metallurgist
234914Physicist (Medical Physicist only)
241111Early Childhood (Pre-Primary School) Teacher
241411Secondary School Teacher
241511Special Needs Teacher
241512Teacher of the Hearing Impaired
241513Teacher of the Sight Impaired
241599Special Education Teachers nec
251211Medical Diagnostic Radiographer
251212Medical Radiation Therapist
251213Nuclear Medicine Technologist
251214Sonographer
251311Environmental Health Officer
251312Occupational Health and Safety Advisor
251411Optometrist
252111Chiropractor
252112Osteopath
252311Dental Specialist
252312Dentist
252411Occupational Therapist
252511Physiotherapist
252611Podiatrist
252712Speech Pathologist
253111General Medical Practitioner
253211Anaesthetist
253311Specialist Physician (General Medicine)
253312Cardiologist
253313Clinical Haematologist
253314Medical Oncologist
253315Endocrinologist
253316Gastroenterologist
253317Intensive Care Specialist
253318Neurologist
253321Paediatrician
253322Renal Medicine Specialist
253323Rheumatologist
253324Thoracic Medicine Specialist
253399Specialist Physicians nec
253411Psychiatrist
253511Surgeon (General)
253512Cardiothoracic Surgeon
253513Neurosurgeon
253514Orthopaedic Surgeon
253515Otorhinolaryngologist
253516Paediatric Surgeon
253517Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon
253518Urologist
253521Vascular Surgeon
253911Dermatologist
253912Emergency Medicine Specialist
253913Obstetrician and Gynaecologist
253914Ophthalmologist
253915Pathologist
253917Diagnostic and Interventional Radiologist
253918Radiation Oncologist
253999Medical Practitioners nec
254111Midwife
254411Nurse Practitioner
254412Registered Nurse (Aged Care)
254413Registered Nurse (Child and Family Health)
254414Registered Nurse (Community Health)
254415Registered Nurse (Critical Care and Emergency)
254416Registered Nurse (Development Disability)
254417Registered Nurse (Disability and Rehabilitation)
254418Registered Nurse (Medical)
254421Registered Nurse (Medical Practice)
254422Registered Nurse (Mental Health)
254423Registered Nurse (Perioperative)
254424Registered Nurse (Surgical)
254499Registered Nurse nec
261111ICT business Analyst
261112Systems Analyst
261311Analyst Programmer
261312Developer Programmer
261313Software Engineer
263111Computer Network and Systems Engineer
263311Telecommunications Engineer
263312Telecommunications Network Engineer
271111Barrister
271311Solicitor
272311Clinical Psychologist
272312Educational Psychologist
272313Organisational Psychologist
272314Psychotherapist
272399Psychologists nec
272511Social Worker
312211Civil Engineering Draftsperson
312212Civil Engineering Technician
312311Electrical Engineering Draftsperson
312312Electrical Engineering Technician
313211Radio Communications Technician
313212Telecommunications Field Engineer
313213Telecommunications Network Planner
313214Telecommunications Technical Officer or Technologist
321111Automotive Electrician
321211Motor Mechanic (General)
321212Diesel Motor Mechanic
321213Motorcycle Mechanic
321214Small Engine Mechanic
322211Sheetmetal Trades Worker
322311Metal Fabricator
322312Pressure Welder
322313Welder (First Class)
323211Fitter (General)
323212Fitter and Turner
323213Fitter-Welder
323214Metal Machinist (First Class)
323313Locksmith
331112Stonemason
331211Carpenter and Joiner
331212Carpenter
331213Joiner
332211Painting trades workers
333111Glazier
333211Fibrous Plasterer
333212Solid Plasterer
334111Plumber (General)
334112Airconditioning and Mechanical Services Plumber
334113Drainer
334114Gasfitter
334115Roof plumber
341111Electrician (General)
341112Electrician (Special Class)
341113Lift Mechanic
342111Airconditioning and Refrigeration Mechanic
342211Electrical Linesworker
342212Technical Cable Jointer
342313Electronic Equipment Trades Worker
342314Electronic Instrument Trades Worker (General)
342315Electronic Instrument Trades Worker (Special Class)
399111Boat Builder and Repairer
399112Shipwright
411211Dental Hygienist
411212Dental Prosthetist
411213Dental Technician
411214Dental Therapist
Politicians rekindle republican debate

The Treasurer & deputy prime minister – Wayne Swan and the former leader of the opposition – Malcolm Turnbull have joined forces to today launch a collection of essays arguing the case for Australia to become a republic.

Malcolm Turnball was a founder member of the Australian Republican Movement and its chairman in the lead up to the unsuccessful 1999 referendum on the issue.

Mr Turnball backed Mr Swans argumewnt that a new debate is “overdue”.

“I’m very positive about the republican cause,”
the Liberal frontbencher said.

“I agree with Wayne Swan that it’s always a good time to talk about our constitution. People say, ‘Oh we shouldn’t be talking about our constitution’ – that’s ridiculous.

“Of course there are more immediate issues – we’re not going to fight the election on this issue, this is not going to be what determines the fate of the Labor government; it’s not going to be even on the radar screen.

“But we should always be alert to and interested in our constitution.”

Deputy Prime Minister Mr Swan said he wanted Labor party policy to set out a two-stage process towards a republic, beginning with a plebiscite on the best model, followed by another referendum.

“We’ve had a decade of inertia and I think the time has come, and I believe sooner rather than later we have to begin the journey towards a plebiscite,” he said.

Mr Turnbull believes the best time will be after the end of the current Queen’s reign.

“There’s got to be the sense that this is an issue of the hour, and it isn’t an issue of the hour for determination at least for most Australians today,” he said.

“There’s no point having another referendum that’s going to be lost.

“I think our best chance of having a referendum which could win would be after the end of the Queen’s reign.”

Australian 457 visa crackdown continues

The Australian PM has once again, lit the blue touch paper with regards 457 visas and is planning to introduce monetary fines for company owners who fail to offer vacancies to Australian workers first.

Unions are pressuring the government to act before the Federal elections in Sept, claiming that under the current “tick-a-box” approach, companies are claiming they face local labour shortages without even advertising the jobs locally.

The changes are expected to be debated by cabinet ministers this week, with the changes including financial penalties for employers who lie or mislead authorities about labour shortages in order to import workers on 457 visas.

The 457 visa is the most commonly used program for employers to sponsor skilled overseas workers to work in Australia temporarily with a little more than 100,000 workers currently in Australia under the visa class.

The number of 457 visa classes has jumped 20 per cent in the last year.

Currently, bosses must claim there is a labour shortage to secure a foreign worker but do not have to prove it.

“Why do they like 457 visas if they have local labour available? Because they can deport these workers in a month,” a senior government source claimed.

Senior government sources also said the Department of Immigration was reviewing “serious” allegations over exploitation of some low-skilled workers, suggesting there was a “fine line” between the abuse of 457s and labour trafficking.

The 457 debate has sparked bitter divisions within government ranks, with accusations the Prime Minister was “dog-whistling” to racists.

Last month, former Labor leader Simon Crean said the debate over 457 visas was a good policy with bad rhetoric.

“She’s gone the class warfare,” Mr Crean said.

“The 457 visa debate was a good example of the message being taken out of context – because it looked like ‘we’ll put Australians before foreigners’. Unequivocally, immigration has been good for this country.”

Mr O’Connor sparked controversy earlier this year when he suggested the number of 457 visa rorts to be in excess of 10,000. “I can assure you we will be looking to legislate,” he said at the time.

Australia migration intake to stay at record levels for 2013-2014

Australia’s migration program will be maintained at 190 000 places in 2013-14 to help fill skills shortages and reunite Australian families, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Brendan O’Connor announced yesterday.

‘The Gillard Government’s top priority will always be jobs for Australians. The permanent migration program is about getting the balance right between our economic and social objectives,’ Mr O’Connor said. ‘Our migration program ensures skilled migrants will continue to fill critical gaps in regions and sectors with genuine skills shortages.’

The 2013-14 program provides 128 550 places for skilled migrants, 60 885 places for family migration and 565 places for migration under special eligibility.

The government has made a small shift of 700 places – from the skill stream to the family stream – in response to the continuing high levels of demand for family stream places from Australians, particularly in the partner category.

‘Skilled migration continues to make up more than two-thirds of the program because of its obvious benefits to our economy and society,’ Mr O’Connor said. ‘Targeted skilled migration enables Australia’s economy to grow by addressing skills gaps and bottlenecks.

‘It is important that our skilled migration program is driven by genuine skills needs. Under the Gillard Government, skilled migration to Australia will continue to be carefully targeted to ensure skilled migrants complement but do not replace the domestic labour force.’

Skilled migrants who are sponsored by employers to fill vacancies that cannot be met locally and regional skilled migrants will continue to be given the highest priority in recognition of the needs of employers and regional areas.

‘Our regional and state and territory skilled migration program categories are unchanged – we remain committed to helping regional economies and communities grow,’ Mr O’Connor said. ‘A regionally focussed skilled migration program which targets the best and brightest combined with a family program that enables Australians to live with their close relatives and partners will continue to deliver for Australia.

‘This Budget keeps our economy strong, makes the smart investments for our future and ensures every Australian gets a fair go.

‘We are investing for the future, putting jobs and economic growth first and protecting the important services that Australians rely on.

‘The Gillard Government is doing this to keep our economy one of the most resilient in the world – we have low unemployment, solid growth, contained inflation and low interest rates.’

457 Visa Application cost to double in price

From the 01st July, the application fee for skilled foreign worker visas will increase from $455AUD to $900 AUD. The price hike was announced in the budget yesterday. The decision comes as the government continues its crackdown on the 457 visa scheme. As part of this crackdown, the office of the Fair Work Ombudsman will also gain $3.4 million over four years as it gets powers to look more closely into alleged rorting of the 457 visa scheme.

Calls for cost of 457 visas to be increased

A report by The Migration Council Australia says that the cost of employing temporary skilled migrants should be increased, in order to encourage Australian businesses to look harder for Australian workers.

The report was based on a survey of 3,800 people working in Australia on 457 visas and 1,600 businesses that employ the temporary migrants.

The report is overwhelmingly positive about the scheme, saying 457 workers have a high level of job satisfaction and integrate well into the Australian workforce.

However, it calls on the federal government to increase sponsorship and nomination fees associated with the scheme, to act as a price signal.

Currently, nominations cost $85 and sponsorships cost $420.

“This should be increased to ensure that more businesses look to hire Australian workers where available,” the report says.

Extra revenue from the scheme could help strengthen compliance and settlement services, it says.

The report identifies some rorting of the scheme, with about two per cent of 457 workers being paid less than the necessary threshold.

It therefore recommends improved monitoring of the scheme.

The report also says more than 70 per cent of 457 visa holders intend to become permanent residents in the future.