Labor has secured a comprehensive package of safeguards for Australian jobs.
These safeguards are complementary to the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).
Labor has argued for safeguards in three specific areas: requiring labour market testing, protecting Australian wages and conditions, and upholding workplace skills and safety standards.
Today Labor has delivered new legal safeguards in each of these areas.
Labor has stood up for local jobs and a safety net of decent wages and conditions for all workers.
Having secured these outcomes, Labor will support the ChAFTA enabling legislation in Parliament, which will allow Australian exporters to gain improved access to the Chinese market at the earliest opportunity. Under an agreement negotiated between Labor and the Government, employers entering migration work agreements including under ChAFTA Investment Facilitation Arrangements will be required to conduct labour market testing.
The new obligations will be written into the Migration Regulations, ensuring they are legally binding.
Labor has also secured agreement to a series of additional safeguards for work agreements. These include requiring employers to adopt training plans showing how they will train local workers, and overseas worker support plans showing how they will support subclass 457 visa workers.
These requirements will be included in Immigration Department guidelines for work agreements and will be underpinned by a new Migration Regulation.
Labor has secured a major improvement in market salary rate requirements for 457 visa workers to ensure temporary skilled migration does not undermine Australian wages and conditions.
The Migration Regulations will be amended to provide that wage rates under enterprise agreements will be used as a benchmark for assessing whether 457 visa workers are being paid market salaries.
The Government has agreed to consider Labor’s proposal to increase and index the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold as part of a review.
Labor has protected workplace skills and safety standards by strengthening requirements for temporary migrant workers in occupations such as electrical and plumbing trades to obtain Australian occupational licences.
New visa conditions will be created requiring 457 visa workers in licenced trade occupations not to work unless they hold a licence, to obtain the relevant licence within 90 days of arriving in Australia and to notify the Immigration Department if refused a licence.
Overseas workers breaching these conditions will risk visa cancellation. Their employers would face sanctions such as having their approval to sponsor 457 workers cancelled.
Labor has also secured new requirements for public reporting on the impact of work agreements.
The Government has agreed to consult the Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration, which includes the ACTU, in developing policy measures to tackle exploitation of vulnerable migrant workers.
Labor’s package of jobs safeguards do not breach ChAFTA, do not require it to be renegotiated and do not discriminate against Chinese workers or companies – in fact they will improve protections for all 457 visa workers in Australia.
Labor’s responsible stance means Australian exporters and consumers will be able to secure the benefits of ChAFTA without Australian job opportunities, wages or skills and safety standards being undermined.
We’re confident that these amendments will address the concerns the community has had in relation to Australian jobs.
Of course, this is not the end of Labor’s efforts to support local jobs, eliminate the exploitation of visa holders and protect the wages and conditions of all workers in Australia..
Labor will continue to examine the operation of our temporary skilled migration program, and the performance of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and workplace regulators, to ensure Australian workplaces are fair, safe and productive.
WEDNESDAY, 21 OCTOBER 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 7340
ANNIE WILLIAMS (WONG) 0428 040 522