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Integrity review of temporary overseas worker scheme released.

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Senator Chris Evans Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

Integrity review of temporary overseas worker scheme released

Friday 14 November 2008

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, today released the report of the Visa Subclass 457 Integrity Review conducted by industrial relations expert Barbara Deegan.

Ms Deegan was appointed in April to conduct a broad review into the integrity of the temporary skilled migration program (subclass 457 visa). The program is an uncapped scheme driven by labour market demand which enables employers to sponsor overseas workers to fill nominated skilled positions in Australia for up to four years.

The report has been referred to the Skilled Migration Consultative Panel, which comprises representatives from business and industry groups, state governments and unions.

The panel will provide feedback and advice to Government on the report, which includes recommendations to:

• abolish the minimum salary level in favour of market rates of pay for all temporary visa holders on salaries less than $100 000 • develop an accreditation system or risk matrix to ensure rapid processing of low-risk visa applications so employers can meet skills needs quickly • develop new lists setting out the skilled occupations for which temporary work visas

can be granted • limit visa holders to a stay of no longer than eight years in Australia (i.e. two 4-year visas or four 2-year visas) while providing a pathway to permanent residency for

those who have the required language skills.

Senator Evans said Ms Deegan’s recommendations and the views of the consultative panel will inform the development of the Government’s reforms to the temporary skilled migration program as part of the 2009 Budget.

‘We are closely assessing the report and decisions to implement individual recommendations will be taken as part of the Budget process,’ Senator Evans said.

‘We have made significant improvements to the processing times of subclass 457 visa applications this year and have no intention of complicating the process or adding red tape to the program.’

Senator Evans noted that paying market rates for temporary skilled overseas workers would ensure they were not used to undermine the wages and conditions of Australian workers.

The Minister also said that a recommendation to institute a levy from employers to fund the provision of services such as Medicare for subclass 457 visa holders was

contrary to Government policy on access to these services by temporary visa holders.

‘The Rudd Government believes it is important that temporary skilled overseas workers do not place an additional burden on Australia’s public health system,’ Senator Evans said.

‘The temporary skilled migration program plays a critical role in providing industry with skilled labour across a wide range of professions in areas where there are serious skills shortages.

‘While the number of workers coming to Australia under the scheme is likely to slow given the current economic conditions, there will continue to be demand for skills in some sectors.

‘The Rudd Government is committed to ensuring the subclass 457 visa scheme operates as effectively as possible in continuing to supply skilled labour where needed while protecting the employment and training opportunities of Australians and the rights of overseas workers.

‘I want to take this opportunity to thank Ms Deegan for her work on this review. She consulted widely throughout the and clearly gained a good understanding of the views of all stakeholders.’\

Visa Subclass 457 Integrity Review Report (403KB PDF file)