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Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Page: 932


Mr CHRISTENSEN (DawsonChief Nationals Whip) (14:31): My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Will the minister update the House on steps the government is taking to ensure that the 457 visa program is a supplement to, and not a substitute for, Australian workers? How would an alternative approach jeopardise job security and opportunities for hardworking Australians?

Mr DUTTON (DicksonMinister for Immigration and Border Protection) (14:31): I thank the member for Dawson for his question. Like all members here, we want to make sure that Australians can get Australian jobs. We want to make sure that where there is a vacancy anywhere around the country that we can fill that position with an Australian worker before we have to look abroad to see, having not been able to fill that job here, whether we would have to bring a worker in on a 457 visa from overseas.

I think all Australians would support that position. Or, at least, I thought so until I saw the speech by the Leader of the Opposition at the Press Club only a week or so ago. He started out by saying that he lamented the number of visas granted for trade and technician jobs, and that the number of visas that had been granted under that category had spiked under the 457 program.

Now, my old man is a builder, and I thought, 'Well, I have a lot of sympathy for the Leader of the Opposition making a fair case. You want to see Australians go into trades and into jobs.' But when you have a look, though, at the figures, the Leader of the Opposition, of course, was the employment minister in the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd great years of government in this country. When you have a look at those figures, it turns out that the number of 457 visas issued for carpenters was 250 per cent higher under the Labor Party—250 per cent higher! For cooks, 3,041 457 visas were issued by the Labor government, remembering that that Leader of the Opposition, who feigned this interest in Australian workers, issued these visas in many cases—up by 150 per cent under Labor.

Motor mechanics: the Leader of the Opposition, as an old union boss, pretended to be the champion of workers. For motor mechanics he had a 200 per cent increase in the number of visas issued during his time. And my favourite—electricians. The honourable Leader of the Opposition here pretended to be one of the workers, although he has never worked a day in his life—he is here for the union bosses, and he is here to represent the union bosses only—what happened in the category of electricians? Up by 400 per cent under Labor—400 per cent!

So when you go out around the country, and when you are talking to people in your electorates and in suburbia around the country, when they say to you, 'You know, there's something not right about this Leader of the Opposition,' and when they say to you, 'I just can't trust him. I just can't bring myself to trust this Leader of the Opposition,' do not look at what he says. Look at what he did when he was a minister in the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years and look at what he does as Leader of the Opposition.

Mr Perrett interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Moreton is warned!

Mr DUTTON: He is not interested in the fact that pensioners are being driven to turn off their air conditioners when the heat is approaching 40 degrees a day. He is not interested in the workers of this country; he is here to represent the interests of union bosses. He is dictated to by Greens policies, which is why he is more interested in the policies that will get them elected in inner city areas, but will starve workers of jobs— (Time expired)