Widespread 457 visa rorting revealed

ScreenHunter_2989 Jun. 26 08.16

By Leith van Onselen

The AFR has today revealed widespread fraud and rorting of Australia’s skilled migration program. According to confidential Department of Immigration files:

…A 2010 report states that “evidence uncovered to date indicates that fraud within the general skilled migration program is extensive with estimates at around 90 per cent . . . [or] more than 40,000 suspect visa applications lodged per year for the last three years”.

The report says limited resources restrict the department’s ability to fix the problem…

“Major organisers of fraud on ­Australia’s immigration and ­citizenship programs realistically need have little fear of detection, arrest and prosecution”…

So while successive governments have cracked-down hard on illegal immigrants arriving by boat, those arriving by plane have been largely left alone. Talk about a double standard.

Meanwhile, it appears that a significant number of so-called skilled migrants are not actually that skilled after all, placing a question mark over the efficacy of the government’s official immigration program.

Yet despite these flaws, presumably made known to the Government long ago, the Coalition is seeking to loosen requirements on so-called temporary skilled migration (known as 457 visas), by reopening a loophole that would allow employers to hire an unlimited number of temporary foreign workers.

And this loosening of immigration standards is to occur just as the Department of Employment has reported that skills shortages are at an “historic low”, with employers able to “recruit skilled workers without marked difficulty”, and “generally large fields of applicants vying for skilled jobs and employers filling a high proportion of their vacancies”.

The whole visa issue flies in the face of the Government’s war on the unemployed. By opening the system to widespread rorting, and systematically making it easier to import labour from offshore rather than training local workers, locals (particularly the young and less-skilled) are deprived of employment opportunities.

One can only assume that the Government is intent to undermine local workers’ pay and conditions, while at the same time keeping the throttle on population growth and capital’s share of profits.

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Unconventional Economist

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.

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  1. Ronin8317MEMBER

    It has always been a backdoor to more immigration. Tugboat operators on 200K are striking for more pay, but where are the 457 visa for tug boat operators?

    • The MUA are clearly scarier than the folks who represent accountants.

      At the same time, Ship’s Officer, Ship’s Master, Ship’s Engineer are indeed on the skilled occupations list and have been for years. Despite or possibly because of Australia’s shrinking maritime industry, people with experience are genuinely difficult to find.

      Note that plenty of people O/S are getting similar money for the same job.

    • Korea?


      bad joke right?


      I’ve personally met people who came in not just on 457 but as a spouse of 457 with completely false qualifications which they then try to apply in businesses – God help us if they get away with it.

      In Thailand, where i used to hang out with ex-pat teachers there is now nobody. A very high percentage of them were here on fake qualifications and on inapplicable visas

      one fellow tried to tell me he had a degree majoring in philosophy from Oxford. Really, yet he knew nothing of modern philosophers – he was 26. I assumed he’d read Popper’s book maybe.

      the fact is that immigration will ALWAYS be rorted – by people trying to find a way to anything that they think is better than their own life

      the immigration system is a bad as pretty much everything else in Australia – high paid public servants who themselves are there on political skills and not tech skills

      better just to open the doors and recognise boarder control fo what it is: a combination of racism and fascism


      • high paid public servants who themselves are there on political skills and not tech skills

        If the performance of some of our senior politicians is anything to go by, their political skills probably aren’t that flash either.

  2. Mining BoganMEMBER

    Where’s Jacky with my coffee?

    Told youse all it was a rort from the start. Cheap labour to reduce conditions was the only aim.

  3. I’m just saying these supposed rorts are a fundamental aspects of many companies in the food industry. A farmer myself i will tell you 417 back packers feed you and 457’s help operate my farms.

    With out foreigners i cant produce unless my wages, risk go sky high. Australians do not want many of these jobs. They all want to be FIFO real estate agents that own Negatively geared investment properties. Its a cultural thing.

    • flyingfoxMEMBER

      +many. Unfortunately, I know of many Ozzies and naturalised ozzies who are good at what they do and want to do it yet are facing uncertain times due to the rorting.

      Taking a pay cut is fine for someone here for 4 yrs and goes back home a whole lot richer. Not for anyone wanting to live here.

      • I met with a CFO of a meat production company the other day. They almost exclusively employ Philippino workers, 200+, on 457’s. They can earn $50k to $75k a year butchering carcasses. They do not need any skill. It is on the job training, all 4 days of it. The problem as I see it is “we” the well educated, well off don’t want to do these jobs.
        I don’t. I am not prepared to bash the people who don’t want these jobs either. Most of the people on this site wouldn’t. So how do we motivate Aussie’s to do these jobs. It is not simply paying higher wages as they just don’t want to do them. We want every one to go to Uni, Queensland wants to be known as the smart start. All the smart people are in white collar BS jobs pushing paper around. These are the real jobs, value adding jobs, but we can’t find anyone to dot them.

      • flyingfoxMEMBER


        And I agree. I don’t have a problem with that, where there is a shortage, employ someone on a 457. As someone who has spent a good part of their lives in a business environment, I am well aware of the situation here.

        However, blanket application of the 457 system to accountants, nurses, IT personal etc etc means non one here can afford to live here…

      • @ff,

        wrt employing people on 457s if there is a real shortage.

        Not sure that this is such a great idea, unless the shortage is highly persistent.

        Bringing people in on 457s reduces wages and makes it more difficult for training programs to survive. If we lower wages enough we won’t be able to compete for labour when the real shortages come – for example when China’s demographic really cranks up in 10-15 years.

      • flyingfoxMEMBER


        Well I was thinking more along the lines of when the demand is high e.g teh mining construction boom.

        You will never be able to train a workforce in a decade for a boom lasting about that long.

        The 457 was a good solution in that environment. Probably kept wages in check a little. As the boom unwinds, the system should as well.

        Having said that, what PhilG says about the culture is correct and hard to reverse. Trades (skilled ot otherwise) in Oz and some western countries have been consistently earning well above average, not that there is anything wrong with it.

      • @FF,

        Yes for demand that is likely to be transient, 457s are an intuitive solution. As you say, though, the trick is to keep on top what stage the boom is at, and slowly close the valve as it unwinds. Requires a bit of grace and sophistication…

    • John,

      That your margins are monkey hammered from above, burnishing the performance metrics of those ongoing concerns, which in turn increases the remuneration of its officers, has been a feature and not a bug – decades in the making imo.

      skippy… it really boils down to bargaining power and ideological capture of the political sphere… hint…. you and yours have none.

  4. My brother is a very, very good chippie and builder. Very smart.

    He has left the trade (for another, but higher value work).

    He tells me that container loads of foreign workers are coming in — with no appreciable skills — and being paid bugger all (these are often on union sites) whilst the builder gets the same coin.

    And we’re talking people (I have got nothing against people wanting a better life) who are being used to exploit local workers with very good quality skill sets, building, wait for it, high rise apartments. So, you’ve got people building high rise apartments, with no skills.

    I called BS on his, on the surface, xenophobic story. He solemnly swore that it was 100% fact.

    • LabrynthMEMBER

      I concur with my own experience on the ground in Sydney. However, these unskilled immigrants are really there to apply the cosmetic features and usually have no association with the structural work.

      You will find a lot of these immigrants performing menial tasks such as tiling, cabinetry, installation of gyp rock etc….

      This is why apartments these days are built to such a poor standard and fall apart after a couple of years. The strata bills in some of these new apartment blocks especially with pools and gyms will reach approx $2,500 a quarter for a standard 2 bed apartment. Couple that with 3% -% gross yields I really struggle to see how some investors are going to hold their heads above the water line.

      • If you call installing large window frames in high rise buildings as a menial/cosmetic task….

      • tmarsh,

        Is that like the way installing insulation in roofs is a task requiring no skills?

    • So, you’ve got people building high rise apartments, with no skills.

      Yep. You’d be silly to buy a house, and utterly mad to buy an apartment, built in this country within the last decade, unless you knew the builder personally. Quality is pretty much guaranteed to be shit.

      • + many.

        I hopped into our roof some time ago. The old bloke who built it was a builder, returned vet. Built 1981.

        All hardwood, overly conservative amount of timber. Crazy.

        Survived a few subtropical cyclones, and going strong. Incredible.

      • Yeah, I have done a few builders clean and I’m kinda shocked by the quality. I hope the structural work is better than the superficial stuff!

      • +1 the houses that being produced today will not end up surviving, many i believe will get knocked down in 20-30 years.

        The house i live in currently is 130 years old. And the quality shits over the houses built yesterday.

        Lol at the thought of these houses being built today ever becoming heritage listed.

  5. My mate runs a company in Syd and brings workers in under 457 visa’s to do his accounting, cheaply.
    all good he reckons

  6. Stopping the boats is a vote winner. It appeals to the Aussie voter who is likely to change their vote.

    It worked for Howard (Tampa) and it’s worked again getting Abbott in.

    If it didn’t win votes, no one would care.

    Uproar on Visa 457 rorting by folks – this isn’t a vote winner. No one will care and nothing will happen.

    • Morrison is apoplectic about a few thousand boat arrivals while his department issues 40,000 fraudulent visas per year to those arriving on planes.

      The world has gone mad

  7. Nothing can stop the population ponzi. Fraud, over-subscription, smuggling, back-doors, front-doors. This is an issue of the Labor, Liberal and Greens making, all smoke and mirrors.

    Seriously, this uncontrolled population expansion is nothing but problems. No planning, no direction, just expanding for expansion sake.

    • All ponzis stop when there are no more new entrants.

      In Australia’s case, that will come if the PTB achieve their goal of lowering Australian wages below China’s. Fortunately, China’s wages are rising at a good clip and ours are already falling, so that’s a good start.

      • +10, exactly, the same will occur everywhere in the West – alining with the Asian living standards and wages. Good luck with the Australian etc., dreams. This was the main aim of globalization – lowering the wages and living standards in the Western countries, but it its early years no one would have believed it.

      • Yes! The Great Equality! Workers of the world as one, national income disparities removed – all workers are equal now.

        A success to be celebrated by socialists the world over. And capitalists too…

        Globalisation, the great equaliser.

      • national income disparities removed

        Then the whole thing collapses, I guess, as the incentive for globalisation is obliterated.

      • Lol. The Ouroboros Problem. Perhaps demonstrated in real time by the Walmart dilemma: whether to pay employees a wage sufficient to enable employees to purchase Walmart product. Or not.

      • 3d1k,

        More than that problem, I was expressing my concern for a generation of business leaders raised on the idea that they could always lower their costs by finding another place to base their operations with ever cheaper costs, who will now be forced to improve productivity through actual improvements to their business processes.

        Or not.

        Or maybe they’ll just automate to the moon.

        The other thing works too though.

  8. If we’re going to turn our cities into Hong Kongs we need tonnes of labour.

    This is a good thing.

  9. If anything this just make the shadow bench look bad – all this occurred under the Rudd government.

    • Fair play. Yeah it did, and under the Howard government even more so.

      In the meantime the Abbott government, having taken responsibility for controlling the fire, have gone in back to fetch some petrol.

    • Julia Gillard tried to do something about it but there was a huge reaction from the business community and indeed by some in her own party.
      If I recall correctly some sections of the MSM suggested the rorting was exaggerated.

  10. I am pretty happy about this wide spread 457 rort as it will cause wages to fall and will make it real hard for the unemployed to find work.It will make the much needed economic reset faster.

      • Yeah I didn’t want to point it out that these 457 workers are pretty much the payees to the rent seekers. And that the 457 pretty much only get paid because they wipe the ass of the rent seekers. See the loop?

        Australia has greatly increased its % of people in its elite class barely able to push paper let alone a wheelbarrow.

  11. Ask anyone that spent time in a the visa/migration department of a firm just how many are legitimate sourcing of skills that can’t be found in the market.

    Very little. This is old however, and the migration department and the government are well aware of it. It’s part of the backdoor population growth policy.

  12. 457 Visa Immigrants suit the needs of the corporates, elite and lazy policy makers perfectly.

    What they get are willing, obedient, unquestioning workers that will accept whaterver is offered because what they have back home is nowhere near as good.

    The sheer number of immigrants means that our “growth” is largely based on consumption, the property ponzu sheme continues, and the rent seekers keep making money.

    Australia is not “open for business”; Australia is Open for Sale.

    • How long conditions here will remain better than the places we get our 457s from is very much an open question.

    • Australia is Open for Sale.

      This country is running just about solely on greed atm and what’s more few seem to care.So very many of us are making a living almost exclusively from shafting our fellow countrymen without seeming to give it a second thought. The narcissism is breathtaking.

      I don’t want to live here anymore.

  13. Well said. For Sale- Team Australia. Just another aspect of the population ponzi that will lower living standards for most as time goes by. Population policy is a no go area for all mainstream parties unfortunately. It’s incredibly stupid and shortsighted not to have a debate about how many people this land, largely desert, can ecologically and economically sustain in the long run.But that’s what our politicians are good at viz, being incredibly stupid and shortsighted.

    • so not only are we deliberately growing our population in excess of our infrastructure capacity, we are deliberately growing it faster than we can properly regulate it.

      Which incompetent is responsible for this? Migration agents and visa factories have taken over control of our population policy

      90% fraud FFS! Slow it down. Fix it. Get it right. Who is in charge?

      At least the FIRB has a board that can be named and shamed. DIMA is completely unaccountable