Australia’s opposition Labour Party has announced it would further crackdown on the country’s skilled immigration system if it wins power at next month’s Federal Election.
The Labour party has unveiled plans that would involve a tightening of the temporary skilled migration visa scheme. The proposals include stricter rules around businesses having to prove they have tried to fill the job with an Australian worker, a higher wage threshold for the skilled visa and a new test to ensure that the use of a visa will also help to train local workers.
However, the opposition has already moved to assure the country’s struggling tech sector that any changes wouldn’t affect them.
“The tech sector is experiencing crippling skills shortages and unless the government invests in skills uplift this is going to continue. We can’t clamp off access to overseas talent if we’re not investing in local talent,” shadow digital economy minister Ed Husic told InnovationAus.com.
“Even if we were to fill every single technology job with a local that should not stop us from bringing in other people from around the world – someone else doing something clever or different that would bring value, and we should bring that talent here.”
Husic’s words were backed up by shadow employment minister Brendan O’Connor, who in an interview on Australian radio pledged that Labour still supports bringing in overseas workers to fill gaps for certain jobs.
“I think it’s absolutely reasonable that if an employer can demonstrate that they can’t find local workers with sufficient skills then they’re given the opportunity to get that labour from overseas, but they should demonstrate they’ve looked locally first,” Mr O’Connor explained. “We accept that if there’s a genuine shortage we need to attend to that, and we want to have the skills authority to identify genuine skills shortages… not when we have an army of unemployed Australians who have those skills but are not being connected to the labour market.”
The Labour proposals would legislate for the creation of an Australian Jobs Test which would ensure that the skilled migration scheme supports and creates local jobs.
“What the visa arrangements have required in the past is a commitment to training. We expect employers looking to ensure their workforce acquires skills, that’s a reasonable thing. We want to make sure that if we bring people in because we believe there’s a shortage, that they have the same standards of qualifications as here,” Mr O’Connor said.
The 2019 Australian Federal Election is due to take place on Saturday 18th May.
Article published 24th April 2019