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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Page: 6386

Mr BOWEN (McMahonMinister for Immigration and Citizenship) (18:00): I never thought we would get to the budget estimates session and that the member for Cook would wait for the last question to talk about irregular maritime arrivals. I guess that is some sort of achievement. In relation to his questions, I will do my best. He did have an eclectic bunch of questions.

In relation to the jobs board, this is a proposal which has been discussed for some time. The union movement has been vocal about it for a considerable period of time. It has been mentioned at Labor Party conferences and in Labor Party platforms. As a concept, it is something the government has been considering for a considerable period of time. That comes as no surprise.

In relation to enterprise migration agreements, as part of the compliance activity my department would look at use of the jobs board in assessing whether genuine efforts have been made to employ Australians. That would be one of the range of factors that the department takes into consideration. It would be necessary, of course, for employers to show that recruitment efforts had been made, including showing what efforts they have made to use the jobs board.

In relation to monitoring, there will be a specialised team in relation to my department and the monitoring of enterprise migration agreements. The resources level in my department for compliance in relation to 457s generally is good. It is a high level of resourcing for compliance per visa holder, for example, compared to other compliance activities around the government.

As I have said elsewhere, I think this needs to be kept in perspective. If you take the 1,700 potential 457 visa holders under the Roy Hill agreement, that is equivalent to the number of 457s that will be issued by my department over the next fortnight. There are 90,000 457 visa holders in Australia as we speak, and so the increase in 457 visa holders, as a proportion of the total in Australia, would be small. Of course, there will be necessary compliance in relation to ensuring ongoing recruitment and ongoing capacity for Australian workers to undertake those jobs. That will be a specialised team in relation to enterprise migration agreements and ensuring that is the case.

In relation to irregular maritime arrivals, the government updates its figures at regular intervals during the year: in the Mid-Year Economic and Financial Outlook, during additional estimates and at other points during the year and, of course, on budget day, and that is what we will do. I thank all honourable members for their very constructive feedback and contributions.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Human Services Portfolio

Proposed expenditure, $4,025,778,000