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Thursday, 15 February 2018
Page: 1229

Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaMinister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (12:31): Looking around the chamber, I don't think anyone else is seeking the call to make a contribution, so I thank colleagues for participating in the debate on the Migration Amendment (Skilling Australians Fund) Bill 2018.

As has been canvassed, the amendments to the Migration Act 1958 seek to introduce the nomination training contribution charge, known as the SAF levy. That's a critical element of reforms to sponsored skilled migration in this country, to ensure that Australian workers are given first priority for jobs in this country. Revenue from the SAF levy will be used to support the training of Australians. The government is committed to skilling Australians so they can get jobs at all levels and occupations across the economy.

The bill also amends the act so that the minister may determine the manner in which labour market testing must be conducted. This enhanced labour market testing will ensure that employers are providing Australians with the first opportunities for jobs before they seek to bring in a worker from overseas.

The bill also amends the act to formalise the current practice of accepting nominations for temporary overseas skilled workers by businesses that have applied to be a sponsor, or entered into negotiations for a labour agreement, rather than waiting for the outcome of that process.

This has been a cognate debate with the Migration (Skilling Australians Fund) Charges Bill, which is a complementary measure to the Migration Amendment (Skilling Australians Fund) Bill and amends the Migration Act to provide for the collection of the nomination training contribution charge.

The second bill provides that the amount of the SAF levy is the charge set in the regulations. The bill also provides that the SAF levy must not exceed the charge limit. In subsequent financial years, the charge limit will be indexed by reference to CPI. This charge limit provides flexibility for the Australian government to make increases to the SAF levy in future while providing certainty for business as to the limited scope for a potential increase.

The bill supports the training of Australians by providing the framework for charging the SAF levy for employers that utilise the sponsored skills migration programs. I commend the bills to my colleagues.

Question agreed to.

Bills read a second time.