23 June 2016

A Shorten Labor Government will deliver a comprehensive plan to ensure the temporary work visa system prioritises Australian jobs and addresses temporary worker exploitation.

All Australians benefit from an economy that is productive and growing, but we must ensure that Australians can get access to local jobs and temporary workers are afforded proper pay and conditions.

Australians have rightly been appalled by the systematic exploitation of workers on temporary work visas at 7-Eleven which saw thousands of employees exploited through the underpayment of more than $100 million in wages. 

Labor believes the temporary work visa system must have robust safeguards in place to protect all workers and must not be used as a back door avenue to source cheap labour.

This means that we need policies and systems in place that support a growing economy, prioritise Australian workers, allow industry to access the skills they need, and importantly, ensure workers are not disadvantaged or exploited.

Labor’s policy gets this balance right.

Our fairer approach includes:

  • Requiring employers nominating 457 visa workers under labour agreements, and as standard business sponsors, to meet labour market testing requirements under the Migration Act, consistent with Australia’s international trade obligations.
  • Introducing a requirement that sponsors in specified sectors that have more than a designated proportion of their total workforce made up of 457 visa holders, must employ 457 visa holders under a Labour Agreement as opposed to being a standard business sponsor.
  • Increasing the level of the 457 visa fee paid by the sponsor.
  • Strengthening enforcement of the skills assessment and occupational licensing requirements.
  • Reviewing the Student Visa and Working Holiday Maker Visa Program.

Our policy includes measures that will ensure that, no matter how a person is employed or which visa a person holds – skilled temporary work, student or working holiday – all workers are treated with fairness and respect. This includes providing significant additional resources for greater monitoring and enforcement aimed at both visa sponsors and visa holders.

We will also streamline visa processing and introduce a new intra-company transfer visa to make it easier for large companies to access the skills they need, when they need them.

Labor’s plan will deliver a temporary work visa system for Australia that prioritises jobs for local workers and addresses the exploitation of temporary workers.

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FRIDAY, 24 JUNE 2016