15 November 2016

Labor will today announce the first steps of a plan to help more Australians into good local jobs. 

The government’s first priority must be ensuring workers in Australia can find good local jobs and ensuring businesses are training and employing local workers. 

Labor will toughen the rules to make sure that where there are local workers ready and willing to work, employers will have to advertise and genuinely try to fill jobs locally before recruiting from overseas. 

Labor will also make sure businesses using significant numbers of temporary workers have a plan for training local workers. 

It is simply unacceptable to see jobs like bricklaying languishing on the list of jobs eligible for 457 visas longer than it takes to train someone for the job.   

We want to protect Australian training standards for our trades, making sure temporary workers meet Australian skills standards before they come to work in Australia. 

Australians benefit from a productive, growing and open economy, and having the right skilled workers helps support economic growth. But Australian workers should not be excluded from good jobs because employers are turning to temporary work visas as an alternative to local hiring.  

Exploitation of overseas workers not only puts them at risk, but undermines Australian wages and safety standards which hurts us all. This includes recent scandals at 7-Eleven where hundreds of workers on a variety of visa classes were exploited. 

Good employers, bosses and companies who do the right thing are put at a disadvantage.   

Unemployment is more than 10 per cent in some parts of Australia, and youth unemployment double that. Underemployment is at record highs with 1.1 million Australians unable to get enough hours at work. 

Since coming to power, the Liberal National Coalition have cut $1 billion from apprenticeship support, seeing apprentice numbers fall by more than 128,000. 

There will always be a need for skilled workers from overseas, but when there are 651 jobs on the latest Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List – including nurses, carpenters, cooks, early childhood educators, electricians, motor mechanics - it’s clear that something needs to be do done. 

Is Malcolm Turnbull really asking us to believe we can’t find Australians to do these jobs? 

Labor tightened the rules on temporary work visas when we were last in office, helping to bring the number of workers coming in on some visa categories under better control. 

But we are now seeing a worrying rise in the number of temporary work visas granted for jobs that should easily be filled by local workers. The average number of grants each year for cooks has more than doubled, while those for jobs like bricklayers and café managers are also on the rise. 

Worse still, we're seeing more reports of exploitation than ever before on the Liberals' watch.

Malcolm Turnbull’s only jobs plan is to keep his own job. It’s time he spent as much time fighting for Australian jobs as he does for himself.

You can find more information here.