The new temporary visa program will carry over the worst aspects of the old 457 visa program and will not ensure central Victorians have first access to local jobs.
Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters, said the key problem with the 457 visa system was its failure to prevent overseas workers being hired on cheap wages for jobs that Australians have the skills to fill.
A report by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) said that “migrant worker complaints of mistreatment had soared in recent years, and sponsorship breaches were often deliberate acts of exploitation by unscrupulous employers”.
This widespread unconscionable conduct has created a sub-class of workers, putting the conditions of all Australians at risk.
New changes proposed by the Government fail to clean up this widespread practice.
“This week’s announcement fails to strengthen the work visa safeguards and ensure that Australia’s work visa program is not being used as a back avenue to source cheap labour."
“The fact is that temporary work visas are having a devastating effect on local workers by creating a cheap imported workforce."
“I have met many unemployed nurses, mechanics, factory workers and electricians in central Victoria who have missed out on jobs to 457 workers.”
Ms Chesters said that the Government’s record on this issue was awful.
“Not only have they failed to address and implement the findings of the recent FWO reports on this matter, the Government has also relaxed regulations for allowing temporary visa workers, instead of toughening the rules."
“The Liberal Government cannot be trusted when it comes to standing up for Australian jobs."
“The Government’s announcement should be called for what it is - a change in name only."
“It does not close dodgy loop holes used by employers to access cheap overseas labour, nor will it provided much-needed safeguards to ensure Australians have access to Australian jobs first."