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Thursday, 20 June 2013
Page: 6524

Migration


Mr MORRISON ( Cook ) ( 14:55 ): My question is to the Prime Minister. I remind the Prime Minister of the bill before the House that seeks to make it harder for skilled migrants to enter Australia on 457 visas. Why is the Prime Minister restricting Australia's orderly skilled migration program while failing to stop the more than 700 boats that have arrived illegally, carrying over 44,000 passengers, since Labor abolished the successful policies of the Howard government?


Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:55): I thank the member for his question. He obviously completely misunderstands the bill before the House. That has been the theme of the day. The opposition today presented in here, did not know anything about carbon pricing even though they are opposed to it; presented in here trying to lecture about the relationship with Indonesia when they have worked to do so much damage to it. Now we have got the member in this parliament misrepresenting to the parliament and to the Australian people what the bill before the House is actually about.

Let me be very clear with the member and very clear with the parliament: what this bill is about is ensuring that 457 visas are used only for the purpose the visa was properly designed for. That is, if there is an Australian who is ready, willing and able to work and has the skills to do so, then that Australian should be able to get a job opportunity. We want to make sure that Australians can get the job opportunities in our nation. Yes, there are times when, because of skill shortages, we do look overseas. To take just one example of that, when the Leader of the Opposition, as health minister, ensured that we were short of doctors and nurses, then it was inevitable that we turned overseas for some of that workforce because you cannot train a doctor and a nurse overnight.

As a nation, we should ensure Australian job opportunities are there for Australians, that we never use any of this as an excuse for slashing training the way that it was used as an excuse by the Howard government, that we are investing in the skills and capacities of the Australian people so that they can get those job opportunities in the future and build a life for themselves and their families. I know that the opposition has a different view but they should be very clear about the nature of the difference. We, over here, are sitting with a policy for Australian jobs—a policy about maximising job opportunities for Australians.

I understand that the opposition has a contrary view, and their view is that the 457 system should be the mainstay of the immigration program—that is, they want to have a system where it is always an option for employers to get someone from overseas even in circumstances where there are Australians who can do that work.

They are the contending policies and we will be out there ensuring that the Australian people understand our policy: Australian jobs at the forefront, Australian jobs at the centre—proudly so—as we invest through Australian training and our schools in the skills and capacities of the Australian people.