Nothing ‘Independent’ about Government’s Review of 457 Visa Program

The so-called “independent” review of the 457 Visa program announced today by Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator Michaelia Cash leaves many questions unanswered, according to the CFMEU.

CFMEU News, 25 Feb 2014

CFMEU National Assistant Secretary, Dave Noonan said that the union welcomes any genuine review of the 457 Visa program.

“We believe the more light that’s shone on the 457 visa program the better. But the review announced by Senator Cash is unbalanced with apparently no formal terms of reference.

“It’s a one page media release and cites a reporting date of mid 2014 which is only 16 weeks away,” said Mr Noonan.

“Furthermore, the Assistant Minister doesn’t say how the four-person ‘independent’ review will go about its work – will it conduct its review in private, or call for public submissions, hear evidence in public and allow interested parties to challenge claims made by others?”

“Several members of the so-called ‘independent’ review panel have all publicly – in some cases, stridently - opposed Labor’s 2013 457 legislation to better regulate the 457 visa program. This includes requiring employers to advertise jobs and prove no Australian workers were available, before getting access to 457 visas for temporary foreign workers.”

“Some panel members are also involved in the migration agent industry whose commercial interests have been adversely affected by the tighter regulation of 457 visas. There should be clear statements of how any conflicts of interest will be dealt with.”

Mr Noonan said the better way of conducting a genuinely independent review of the 457 visa program was to do it under the auspices of the Migration Advisory Council on Skilled Migration (MACSM), a tripartite body that had functioned well and had legislative backing.

“Senator Cash needs to explain why she has not commissioned the 457 review through the MACSM or indeed why she has not re-activated the Council as the 457 legislation requires. Could it be the Senator does not want unions involved?”

“Around 50% of 457 visas go to young foreign nationals under the age of 30, at a time when youth unemployment in Australia is high and rising. It is vital that the 457 program be properly regulated to ensure the rights of young Australians to Australian jobs are protected.”

Click here to read the original article on the CFMEU website.

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