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Wednesday, 9 May 2018
Page: 3391


Mr TUDGE (AstonMinister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs) (09:53): I move:

That the amendments be agreed to.

There are a number of amendments which have come back from the Senate which the government has agreed to. Largely, these amendments go to things which we were planning on including in instruments, but which the Senate wanted to be included in legislation—in particular, the labour market testing provisions which, as everybody knows, we are very serious about incorporating as part of the reforms to what used to be called the 457 visas and which are now called the TSS visas, the temporary skill shortage visas. This is the primary visa to enable businesses to sponsor people into the country on a short-term basis. We wanted to ensure that there is very good labour market testing conducted first to give the opportunity for an Australian to accept the job before the business could sponsor a person from overseas into that position. The amendments go through some fairly rudimentary labour-market testing provisions—saying, for example, that the advertisement must be advertised for at least four weeks; that the advertisements must be at least four months prior to the position being requested; and also that the manner of the ads must be sufficient to give an Australian a good opportunity to know about it, to assess that particular job to see if they want it, and to apply for it. It's only if there is no Australian able to fulfil the particular job—having advertised for the position, done the right thing for the requisite amount of time—that the particular business can then sponsor a person into that position.

There's a further amendment, which was requested by the Nick Xenophon Team, now known as Centre Alliance, to review the operation of the SAF levy after 18 months. That seems like a reasonable amendment, and so we have agreed to that amendment. Consequently, I hope that now the SAF bill, with these amendments, will pass the House and be enacted into law.

If I can just reflect upon what this bill, the Migration Amendment (Skilling Australians Fund) Bill, does. In essence, it amends the Migration Act 1958 to provide for the collection of a nomination training contribution charge from employers nominating overseas skilled workers. The measure is a critical element of the government's employer-sponsored migration reforms, ensuring that Australian workers are given first priority for jobs in this country. The government is considering industry concerns regarding refunds of and exemptions from the nomination training contribution charges. The government, as I said, supports the amendments to the bill moved by the opposition regarding labour market testing, and by Centre Alliance regarding a review of the nomination training contribution charge 18 months after commencement. The administration of the Skilling Australians Fund will increase the transparency and accountability of training contributions made by employers utilising the skilled migration program. This will increase public confidence that the businesses that bring in skilled migrants are doing their part to help Australians prepare for the workforce.

This is an important bill which is a continuation of our reforms to the skilled migration program, which included the abolition of the 457 visas. We were concerned that that wasn't always being used properly, and so we've introduced a new scheme, the short-term skills shortage scheme. That is in operation now and is going along well. We are finding that this is being utilised, but that there are skills shortages across the country as the labour market tightens. We're working with those businesses to ensure that where there's no Australian available, they can get a skilled migrant into those positions. I commend these amendments to the House and I look forward to the passage of this bill.