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Monday, 9 August 2021
Page: 131


Mr DRUM (NichollsChief Nationals Whip) (15:34): by leave—I would like to thank the chair, Mr Julian Leeser, for the work he did as chair of this committee. It's an important report and the inquiry certainly got out into the regions, which was worthy. Certainly the information that we were able to take in as evidence was very important when it came to putting the recommendations together. I would also like to thank my coalition colleagues and my Labor colleagues in this committee. As I think most people in this House would understand when it comes to skilled migration and unskilled migration, the Labor Party come from a long way away from where we need to be. When we talked to businesses and industries about the actual real need that we have, it was always a struggle to reach a medium where we could actually move forward with policy.

However, I think the report lands in a pretty good space. It talks largely about how we can make it easier in relation to areas such as market testing. Right now in Australia, when a business needs to get a sheet metal worker, a diesel mechanic or another specialist in, they have to advertise in print, and the print advertisement in the local papers costs thousands and thousands of dollars. They have to do that for 28 days. It's quite ridiculous, when you can simply go onto seek.com and see that there are 2,000, 3,000 or 4,000 vacancies for these positions.

We spent a lot of the time understanding why these provisions are in place, where we have to prove what everybody in Australia already knows: there is an incredible shortage in certain sectors in the employment sphere. Right now if you go online and pull up chefs, you will see that there are around 5,000 vacancies in Australia. There are about 3½ thousand vacancies for restaurant managers. Yet, if anybody wants to bring an overseas worker in for either of those two areas, they have to advertise for a month in their local newspaper, at a cost of thousands and thousands of dollars. It's ridiculous. When we put that to the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, they rejected the idea that they should have a better understanding of the various sectors right throughout regional Australia or in fact metropolitan Australia. We made recommendations in that regard.

I think the real understanding is that the pathways to permanency provisions that we have put in place will benefit Australia greatly. There is the realisation that the employment situation in so many different sectors is completely different in regional Australia to what it is in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. This goes to so many of the trades. Tradies can be expensive in Melbourne and Sydney, but at least you can get one. You put an advert in the paper or you go on seek.com and you fill that position relatively easily. In the regions, it's not like that, and this report highlights, through the evidence that we were able to receive, that disparity.

I again want to acknowledge the chair. I want to acknowledge the way that the Labor Party, even though they start from a long way away, have worked hard—Maria Vamvakinou, as the deputy chair, and Julian Hill—and come together to put the report in a way so that we can move forward and accept the report as a whole. I thank the committee for its work.