Inside 457 visa rorts

By Leith van Onselen

Dr Joanna Howe, a senior lecturer in law at the University of Adelaide, give an excellent interview yesterday on ABC News 24 highlighting the many flaws in Australia’s 457 vias system.

Here’s some of the money quotes:

“There’s no mechanism within the 457 visa system to make sure that Australians get first access to jobs. The government will point to two things. They will say there’s a shortage occupation list. But that has 600 occupations on it, many of which are not in shortage.  So things like nursing, engineering – occupations which Australian graduates are struggling to get into the labour market for – those jobs are on this occupational labour shortage list for the 457 visa.

The other mechanism the government will point to is employer conducted labour market testing, which was introduced under Labor in 2013… It is a farce. It essentially allows an employer to test the labour market by putting an ad on Facebook. The ad doesn’t have to be paid. It can be anywhere on social media. And that is enough to show that you’ve tested the labour market.

So Bill Shorten does have a point when he says that the 457 visa system does allow employers to replace Australian workers in the labour market… We need to have independent labour market testing… At present there are no mechanisms to find out where are the genuine skills shortages..”

I will add that 457 workers employed under skill level 1 (so-called “Managers and Professionals”) and skill level 2 (so-called “Associate Professionals”)  are not subject to any labour market testing to determine whether an Australian can do the job first. Hence, 80% of total 457 visa holders are not currently subject to labour market testing.

The recent Senate report entitled A National Disgrace: The Exploitation of Temporary Work Visa Holders identified similar flaws and recommended sensible changes to the 457 visa system, including:

  • indexing the minimum income threshold for 457 visa holders to ordinary weekly earnings, so that it is not eroded over time;
  • implementing a more rigorous, independent, evidence-based, and transparent processes for determining the Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List (CSOL);
  • implementing stringent labour market testing of all 457 visa nominations to ensure that employers employ locals first wherever possible;
  • specifically prohibiting the replacement of local workers by 457 visa workers;
  • making employer sponsors of a 457 visa worker (professional) also employ an Australian tertiary graduate in the same enterprise on a one-for-one basis;
  • requiring employer sponsors of a 457 visa worker (trade) to demonstrate that apprentices represent 25% of the sponsor’s total trade workforce; and
  • implementing a $4,000 training levy paid per 457 visa holder employed in the business.

If our policy makers truly want to restore integrity back into the system, and safeguard Australian jobs, they should implement these reforms.

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Leith van Onselen
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  1. so basically this is Aus government is waging war on Australian’s living standards. I thought they serve us not the other way around. Voting Pauline next election FUCK EM.

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      All of the ill discussed here on the pages of MB are the result of an unholy alliance between Global Coporate Plutocracy and a “Progressive”,elite, Cutural Marxist intelligencia. Both members of this alliance are full adherents of Neoliberalism.

      The true Victors of this alliance are the 1%ers of this world, the capitalist class and a Vote for Hanson isnt going to challenge these people, nor is a vote for the Coalition or any other party on the right. The Greens are hoplessly self flagelating them selves thanks to an obsession with “Progressivisim” and even though Labor isnt far behind at least has potential to be put back on track, challenging the power status quo.

      But it’ll take 100s of thousands of people like me and you Nikola, joining the Party and demanding a change of direction.

      Join up (the labor party) and participate,.. you can still vote Hanson on the sly.


      • do you really think we can make a difference? Or is it worth rebuilding the Democrats or set up new party? It really feels like Labour is beyond repair.

      • My reply to Buddy (whom I agree with anyway) was really intended to respond to your remark Nicola. Regardless, we can see here why so many districts in the USA that voted for Obama went for Trump this time around. I agree, sometimes one has no choice but to take the hardest line. By the way, I highly respect EM’s intelligence and position and if many more people joined the ALP they could make it return to its mandate, but I think that would only happen in sufficient numbers after a prolonged period of recession/depression. I’m tempted myself to vote One Nation just to smash the current “establishment”, (something I never thought I would consider until very recently) and of course I have no problems voting for the likes of Sustainable Australia and Katter and anybody who’ll burn work visa laws and FTAs.

  2. Labor was the worst handing out the 457 visas so i struggle to believe anything they or the liberals say about changing the status quo. Vote the smaller parties than can cause an upset at the next election!

    • Spot on. Hence my constant term for them as traitors, judases, sociopaths, etc. But it’s not only the Looting and Nepotism Party, the ALP which has betrayed it’s mandate and of the course the Greens who are just mindless stooges of the corporatocracy through their mindless divide and rule identity politics.

      Like the FTA’s the rules are tokens designed to mislead Australians. The whole point about work visas is to undermine the bargaining power of Australian workers.and weakens workers’ unions. The rules are, for all practical intents, impossible to enforce and token cases of highly publicized enforcements are merely used to calm the masses. Anybody who cannot see through this is an imbecile. Your country is being stolen from right under you by the Corporatocracy.

    • those who advance the organisations interest will be promoted above other who advance the organisations goals. Understand that organisation intent is quite different from individual intent. An organisation is best understood as a manifestation of a non human intelligence, with its own fight for survival.

      hence, labour gave out 457’s like a pedo giving candy to children. Organisationally, the more low they import, the more the low will vote for labour. The strategy has a name, High-Low vs Middle. The labour party (not labour voters, or labour leaders, or labour party members – the party itself) is simply looking after its own interest.

      Don’t believe me, go find the old episode of west wing that deals with immigration. The scheming is based on an understanding of the reality that hispanics are good for the democratic party. how many of your prog friends liked the west wing? Why use the example of the west wing? Because it reminds you of a time when the world seemed nicer, but i’m telling you nothing has changed ever.

      • those who advance the organisations interest will be promoted above other who advance the organisations goals – if this confuses you, think about what impact an organisation has on those in and around it, as opposed to the rhetoric it uses. See what it does, not what it says.

        Simple rule of thumb – expanded budgets and fiefdoms are good, everything else is simply a way to do this. Hence no govt dept has ever solved the problem it was instituted to solve.

  3. Mining BoganMEMBER

    Well Jiminy Crickets, where was everyone five-ten years ago when my crowd were all laughing at this skills shortage bullshit? Yeah, it got us some fancy pay jumps(kinda backfired there), but even we knew it was a nonsense. Us, the supposedly dumbest of them all.

  4. I find it a shame that MB’s comments sections are so often dominated by politcal warriors The first five posters on this thread all push one political party over another but do not even attempt to address the detail of the policies outlined by Leith.

    My initial impression of what Leith is suggesting is that it could be painted as disadvantaging small business: whilst a large employer could afford to take on apprentices and pay training levies a mum and dad operation could not. A counter to that would be to refer to the accounting model where the big accounting firms take on lots of graduates, which they use as cannon fodder for a few years. Over time most of those graduates, for one reason or another, leave the big accounting firms to find employment in smaller and suburban firms or in corporations. The smaller firms could not offer the training and experience that the big firms can. So even if the 457 visa system was seen as initially favouring larger firms if those firms were churning out a steady stream of local tradesmen then over time the mum and dad firms would also benefit.

    Might be a hard sell though… (would take a Paul Keating or John Howard to be able to sell it).

    • FFS hONEST John Howard,smashed and burned the government funded vocational training sector when he came into power in 1996. Then his “solution” to the skill’s shortage he manufactured was a massive expansion of the work visa system. But because of his government’s pumping of the property bubble by tax breaks and bribes and then the fluke of the China driven once in a century mining babooom, there wages were driven up. Of course neither boom was sustainable and look what’s happening. HONEST John engineered this situation CAPICHE!

      • St J
        I’m not saying anything about Howard’s politics I was merely saying that, like Keating, he was able to successfully argue his case into public acceptance. Again, how about you put aside the political warrior prism and actually debate the issues.

      • I got that point triage. And my criticism of that point is implicit in what I said. Honest Howars did not argue for his case, he did the exact opposite of what he argued for. The classic case was using the boat people with his “racist” dog whistling to sucker in Hanson’s supporters back then. And once he’d demolished the inept Hanson supporter, he opened the sluices of massive immigration. And the ALP? They’ve simply gone along with everything that Honest John engineered. The MSM distracted people quite deliberately with the shadow boxing of the Social Justice Wanker set. Why? Because they all accept the corporatist neoliberal ideas, or to be more precise, have sold out. They are bought commodities. If a PM can say the opposite of what he does, have the opposition go along with him on broad principles, then your political system is utterly and irretrievably broken. To use the USA analogy, if Trump fails the working class, there will be real revolution. And the rest of the West is heading the same way, and far faster than I had predicted.

      • St Jack,

        That’s true, but it was Hawke and Keating who got the ball rolling in that area, Howard just continued what they started.

      • Fair point Dennis. The cunning bastard Howard cleverly followed on the logic of what they had started.

  5. I’ve been working in the IT industry in Australia since 1990 and have first hand experience of the changes taking place within large corporations.

    I am still able to find work only because I received my work experience during a period when work visas didn’t exist. Companies no longer take on graduates as they did in the 90’s and early 2000. As a result any technology younger than 10 years will be filled by a 457 or newly arrived PR. I have worked on projects with over 300+ people and often only 20% would be filled by locals who are mostly like myself over 50.

    I can also confirm IT contract rates have not increased since 2000 and in some cases even lower. That’s 17 years without a pay rise.

    Australia has essentially handed its entire IT industry over to non Australian born residents or work visas with no caps on numbers which is driving salaries down. No wonder big business loves 457s. No training, unlimited supply of resources, and IT pay rates at late 90’s. But it hasn’t made them more profitable because the dubious foreign experience means it now takes 2 to 3 times more people to do the same job.

    • reusachtigeMEMBER

      All true but meaningless because if IT nerds don’t like it they should just go get a better job!

    • Largely correct. The only thing I’d say is that companies not hiring grads at the same rate is not just Aus and not just IT. Its a general trend mostly caused by the perpetual squeeze on management positions.

      Whats interesting is that there are not actually enough good quality IT grads even to fill the small number of positions that are available. All the grads that I have met in last few years had multiple good offers. That said, they were probably the good ones. Maybe theres a lot more out there who cant get jobs,

      But leaving that aside, theres no doubt that if current trends continue, there will be a surplus of IT professionals in Aus and the whole thing needs to be managed much better.

      • It’s unrealistic to expect fresh IT graduates from Universities to be good : they need experience and training, something that is no longer offered by Australian businesses. The relatively few geniuses would already be poached by multinationals before they graduate.

  6. Jumping jack flash

    “At present there are no mechanisms to find out where are the genuine skills shortages..”

    What? And despite this they were able to determine a skills shortage which has been pedaled for a decade by both parties, importing tens of thousands of skilled professionals in the name of a shortage? Based on what? Someone held out a divining rod and said, “points left, skills shortage, points right, no skills shortage… … well, what do you know!?”

    The more I look at it, the more I think it was not coincidental that workchoices was dropped, never to be heard of again, and then suddenly we have dire shortages in all of our professional skills.

    Can’t negotiate lower wages? Well let’s flood the market instead.

    Not that lower wages are a bad thing, I’d happily get paid half as much as what I am paid. I have no debt, therefore I can.
    Debt places a floor under minimum wages so your acceptable minimum has to be set depending on your debt repayment obligations. The more debt, the higher your minimum acceptable wage.

    The real issue for me with this whole 457 thing is not being able to find a job at all in my field because the market is unnecessarily saturated with imports with questionable skills.

  7. I was under the impression that as part of the visa the minimum wage for the role is fixed and cannot be lower than for a local applicant. Is that not the case? Because if it is the case, then the issue is just to make sure that the salary is paid accordingly and you would sort out immediately all those companies that only want to save on paying a fair wage. Advertising is always a grey area , whether on social media for free or Seek for not much at all.

  8. Basically they just need to tax the 457 visa system properly, and use that money to fund infrastructure.

    Anyone remember the LAFHA allowance years ago? When 457 visas were claiming living away from home allowance and thus were paying less tax than the locals? Utter stupidity.

  9. Introduced by Labor in 2013?

    Why not 2008?

    I voted for SAP and ONP on 2 July 2016.

    Going to vote 1 ONP next time.