Show us your immigration policy, Bill

By Leith van Onselen

Labor leader Bill Shorten has been quick to ridicule the Turnbull Government’s reforms to Australia’s 457 visa system, labelling it a “con job”. From The Age:

Labor has released an analysis that shows just 8.6 per cent of foreign workers currently on a 457 visa are working in jobs that would be excluded under the new visa system…

The 651 professions eligible for a 457 visa would be slashed to 435 eligible for a new two-year temporary skills shortage visa, under the changes announced on Tuesday. The list for a new four-year visa would be even shorter.

Further, of the 216 jobs being slashed from the eligible occupations list, 18 of those being cut haven’t been used once in the last decade. Those jobs include turf growers, deer farmers, homeopaths, and detectives.

Another 46 occupations on the list haven’t been granted a visa once in the last year, including antique dealers, futures traders, park rangers, blacksmiths, gunsmiths, saw makers and repairers, sail makers, shoe makers, funeral directors and golfers.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the analysis of the publicly-available data, which was current to December 31, 2016, showed the changes to the list of eligible occupations “isn’t a crackdown, it’s a con-job”…

“He’s [Mr Turnbull] tinkering at the edges for a headline so he can keep his job for another month. He’s scrapped one visa and created two new ones – not even one in ten visa holders would be affected,” he said.

As I noted earlier this morning, there are four fundamental problems with Australia’s 457 visa system, namely:

  1. There are way too many occupations on the skills shortages list.
  2. Those working under the 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, nearly 80% of total 457 visa holders are not currently subject to labour market testing.
  3. Where labour market testing is required it can be overcome by putting an ad on Facebook or other social media and that is enough to show that you’ve tested the labour market – basically a farce.
  4. The 457 visa system is not sufficiently responsive to either higher levels of unemployment, or to labour market changes in specific skilled occupations.

The Turnbull Government’s policy helps overcome some of these issues via:

  1. Implementing a new two-year temporary visa system that has no path to permanent residency, as well as a four-year scheme for highly skilled positions where there is a proven labour shortage;
  2. Cutting the range of jobs that foreign workers can apply for by more than 200 occupations;
  3. Mandatory labour market testing for all visas issued under the new scheme;
  4. Mandatory English language proficiency; and
  5. Higher minimum market salary rate so that local workers are not undercut.

There is no doubt that much more needs to be done on the immigration front to restore the system’s integrity, including cracking down on other cases of visa rorting (e.g. foreign students and the Working Holiday Maker program) and significantly cutting Australia’s permanent immigration intake to sensible and sustainable levels.

But the fact remains that the Coalition has laid its cards on the table and has promised that more immigration reforms will be announced in the future.

It is now incumbent on Bill Shorten and Labor to announce policies of its own to curb Australia’s mass immigration program and safeguard living standards by taking pressure of jobs, housing, infrastructure, and the environment.

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Leith van Onselen
Latest posts by Leith van Onselen (see all)


    • Leith, the Turnbull plan doesn’t do what you say. The new two year visa can lead to perm residence. The two year visa can be renewed once onshore for a total of four years. PR possible after three years. No labour market testing for positions covered by trade agreements. So no testing for jobs listed in agreement with China. The English language test is a joke. Have s look at ielts to see what the requirement means. You can score 5 and be unintelligible. Read the announcement on

  1. And show us how many of your ministers own investment properties so we at least can join the dots.

    • Perhaps employers in those industries need to pay more. Or perhaps there shouldn’t be those industries.

    • Australians are just following Joe Hockey’s advice – if you want a good life in Australia, you’ve got to get a good job that pays good money.

  2. This is an extract from official Labor reply, not too sure if it actually covers those points though:

    “Labor does, and has always taken the issues of worker exploitation seriously. Whether they be Australian Citizens or Migrant workers, Labor has always fought for the right of the worker to have a safe work place, free from exploitation and harassment, for a fair days pay.

    This is the ideal. To work towards this, when Labor was last in government the Fair Work Commission and its counterpart, the Fair Work Ombudsman were set up. This was designed to give workers who were not sure of their rights and entitlements a place to find reliable information, and a mechanism to report unlawful employer behaviour including exploitation.

    In addition to this, Labor set up strict guidelines as to what work a 457 Visa could be used for and gave workers additional time to find a new employer should they be unhappy with their conditions. Restrictions were placed on Employers, requiring them advertise locally to fill vacant job positions before they were able to open the position to potential 457 Visa applicants.

    This time last year, Labor introduced the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Australian Workers) Bill (2016), that again worked to strengthen protections for temporary and migrant workers. The bill can be found here –

    During the 2016 Federal election campaign, Labor were unequivocal in their support for better safeguards and regulations for migrant workers in Australia. Some information on the election proposal around these issues can be found here –

    When the extent of Visa and Migrant Worker abuse throughout multiple sectors (Most famously through-out the 7-11 and Domino’s store chains, and amongst the fruit pickers throughout Australia) was revealed late last year, both Brendan O’Connor and Shayne Neumann unequivocally condemned the revelations, and called on the Coalition Government to bring in more robust safe guards for temporary work visas. To date, we have seen very little movement from the Government to strengthen protections for these workers.

    It can be very difficult to find areas of exploitation in areas where workers are being threatened and controlled by their employers. Many of our safe guards rely on people being able to report abuse when they experience it or witness it – and this can be something that is very difficult to do in situations that involve exploitation. The work of the unions finding and bringing to light exploitation within these industries cannot be understated. In fact, one of the reasons why we are aware of the breadth of the exploitation within the fruit picking industry is because of the hard work of the National Union of Workers, who have successfully exposed and subsequently helped these workers fight for their pay and conditions, despite significant push back. You may have seen this article detailing a small part of this work –

    Labor is now, and will always fight against the exploitation of all workers across Australia. This has never and will never be a back burner issue for Labor, and you can rest assured that the Shadow Ministry will continue to adapt, promote, and fight for their worker protection policy platform all the way to the next election.

    If you have any further questions on this issue, please do not hesitate to ask.

    Catherine Campbell
    Office of the Hon. Brendan O’Connor MP
    Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
    Federal Member for Gorton

  3. Mr SquiggleMEMBER

    in fact we know Bill Shorten’s position on immigration, it was accurately reported here on Macrobusiness back in 2013

    I’m hopeful the latest punch & counter-punch over 457s heralds the start of a new era of lower immigration, but I can remember what was said last time the debate ran hot in 2010 and nothing much came from it. My worry is these cynical politicians will just say what they think will keep them in power during this era of BRexit and Trump’s wall and then revert to population-boosters as soon as the fuss dies down.

    Still, it does seem to be a bit different this time around….Thanks again MB for the good work- I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

  4. Jumping jack flash

    I’m waiting for results of the baseline study to determine the current and optimum levels of “active professionals” in all professions on the shortage list.

    Until then, how do they even know whether there is a shortage? There may be no shortage, and they wouldn’t even know it. There may even be a *gasp* surplus!

    Until then, all claims of “shortage” are just as absurd as claims of “surplus”, and as such, all immigration in the name of shortage should cease immediately.

    Furthermore, if there is an actual shortage, without this study how do they know when they have flown enough people into the country to alleviate it?

    The fact we aren’t asking these questions means we have all been fooled with the classic bait-and-switch.

    Without the baseline study, what’s the benchmark used to determine shortages or surplus?
    Is it wages?
    If so, what is the ideal wage price for each profession on the shortage list?
    Will they be happy when every IT professional is working for 45K?
    Then again, I don’t think wages are much of a threat if you look at wage inflation over the past decade or more.

    I think I may try my hand at deer farming, and see how that goes. Apparently we have enough of those now, so it can only improve with natural attrition, right?

  5. Let’s bypass all the window dressing and bullshit and cut to the chase.
    Malcolm, What is your NOM cap for this year?

  6. Implementing a new two-year temporary visa system that has no path to permanent residency, as well as a four-year scheme for highly skilled positions where there is a proven labour shortage;

    I’m pretty sure in Ireland you had to live there for at least 5-6 years before you could apply for residency (that’s after working and paying tax into the local economy for all that time). I know quite a few people from places outside Europe stayed working in Ireland for that time specifically to get an EU passport. Before moving onto the UK or other places.

    Our system is still totes lax.

  7. JunkyardMEMBER

    “Those jobs include turf growers, deer farmers, homeopaths, and detectives”

    Homeopaths. HOMEOPATHS? What the hell?
    How the actual fuck does a pseudoscience end up on the skilled migration list? It’s like saying we have a skills shortage on Wizards or Astrologers.

    Homeopathy is based on some magical thinking about the memory effect of water. They basically just make shit up and promote anti-vax and the naturalistic fallocy. In other words they do nothing useful apart from add to the cost of public health due to promoting the spread of communicable diseases or delaying naive people from getting proven medical assistance.

    Good grief this 457 thing is a complete joke.

  8. Why do we need any more NOM?
    Our population is growing by 3000 extra residents per week on natural growth alone

  9. Indeed, Labor party’s silence on this is deafening.

    Nothing on Twitter or Facebook either.

  10. I actually disagree with the new English language proficiency requirement.

    Will it be rorted like the way foreign “students” cheat on the English exam to come here?

    The best solution is to raise the minimum salary requirement on every 457 visa to $100k/year or just put a $50k/year tax on each 457 visa – then foreigners can cheat on as many exams as they like but they will not be given a 457 visa unless they pay a ton of money.

    • I kind of agree with the sentiment – if the employer thinks their skills are so great they’re worth $100k+ per year, they’ve either assessed the English language and decided its fine, or the skill is so rare, the English language component can be overlooked.

      In short, the English language bit becomes irrelevant if the visa applicant has genuine hard to obtain skills. Conversely, too much focus on the English language requirement implies they’re going to keep bringing in barely employable idiots.

      • Yep. If they are so very skilled, why are they on less than $100k/year? And a lot are on $10/hour (at 7-11, Crust Pizza, etc)

        There are lots of highly skilled people in Japan who may fail the English test and it is far easier for someone from India or China to get an imposter to do the exam.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        Come now, I’m sure we all understand the point of the “English test” is to try and filter out immigrants from the “wrong” (ie: non-Anglo) countries.

      • So fkn what if it is drsmithy? How diverse is sufficiently diverse for you? Streets of Melb/Syd look plenty diverse to me – oh noes we want future immigrants to have English skills and be more likely to integrate – oh wow what a disgusting expectation!

  11. Homeopaths on the 457 eligible jobs register?

    For fuck’s sake.

    I would have thought if you had a shortage of homeopaths that would only make them even more effective.

    • Yes, but the number of Visas issued were diluted to 100X. So in reality there were no active ones. 🙂

    • I would have thought if you had a shortage of homeopaths that would only make them even more effective

      Brilliant 🙂

    • JunkyardMEMBER

      Haha exactly. A shortage of homeopaths should keep measles and whopping cough outbreaks down a bit.

      If people want to blow $80 on a homeopath for their fortnightly dose of placebo who am I to stop them, but these literal snake-oil salesmen promote a lot of harmful ideas like anti-vax as well. That crap like this is on the skills shortage makes me so angry.

  12. Billy Manboobs and his voters want big Australia and to hell with who wants to get in the way.

  13. Kids….leave the Big Australia……all inspired by the ALP and the LNP.

    The sellouts that they both are.

    The self-centred, scum of the earth fucks that both major parties are.

    Sell out your children at all cost via importing wealth from cashed-up fucks, and dilute your locals wages via the massive influx of people that will work for pittance.

    Then turn around to your local youth and call them lazy because they will not work for poverty money that cannot even sustain themselves in an ever-increasingly expensive society where wages have not kept up.

    Youth have every right to be outraged and angry at an Australia led by the predominantly boomer class that has sold them up the creek.

    Baby boomers for aged care = Cannot-come-soon-enough = Enjoy the cultural difference courtesy of your endorsed 457 programme.

    We need those 457 radio personalities, oh, and dont forget the auctioneers. What a scam.

    Your legacy speaks volumes.


    “Changes to citizenship will enable our migration program to contribute still further to our social cohesion while enhancing our security,” Mr Turnbull told the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry breakfast this morning.

    “Australia must continue to attract people who will embrace our values and positively contribute, regardless of nationality or religious belief.

  15. Skilled immigration is the problem for which it masquerades as a solution!

    Over the past 250 years, Australia has seen increasing immigration yet, now with 24.4 million people, the number of new arrivals into Australia has never been higher, both from organic expansion of ~155K pa and net overseas migration. Surely to continue doing what has been done over the past 2 1/2 Centuries and expecting a different outcome would be a sign of collective madness?

    On average, for every skilled immigrant there are 2.6 dependents who also arrive, creating more demand for services. So the net result of the arrival skilled people has been to increase the demand for skills, not reduce it!
    Beyond this obvious Ponzi population scheme, the unintended consequences or negative externalities of population growth are now being writ large. This includes, productivity destroying congestion, pollution, noise, loss of amenity, tranquility and grace as well as the destruction of the natural native environment and loss of vegetation.

    It is time for Australia to GROW UP! Australia needs to stop calling out for others to help us and begin to take responsibility for its own future in a sustainable way. As a nation of nearly 25 million do we really need more people already? Surely 25 million is enough? Australia needs to be better, and not bigger. A focus on productivity, to deliver a sustainable environment that supports an economy that does as little damage as possible, which is serviced by a society that is smart, does not support massive wealth disparity and which has a common goal of opportunity for all. That’s the Australia we need, not the big, fat and lazy Australia that relies on population growth to keep the wheels turning

  16. Bill Shorten is a corrupt lawyer that narrowly escaped prosecution for his role in smothering up the Gillard AWU bribery (along with his root at the time Nicola Roxon who like Gillard was rewarded with a safe seat as payoff to cover up the fraud).

    And now we have duplicitous Shorten posturing as the workers friend when all along he’s been negotiating agreements with employers to sell workers out.

    Bill isn’t going to stop the visa and migration rackets.

    Nor is Toxic Tanya Pilbsererk : surely the most disgusting labour front bencher ever seen in this country. When she was health minister she handed the NRAS (national rental affordability scheme) $4.5 billion intended for Australian homeless – over to foreign Chinese & Indian investors… to house… international students here on fake or pretext visas to work illegally.

    Labor offers no solution here.
    The answer is Turnbull needs to go.
    Maybe it’s a Peter Dutton or someone serious doing something about setting our migrant issues.

    The intake needs to be set to zero.
    No Muslims unless they renounce Islam – they can’t uphold Australian values if they don’t, Islam says so.
    No residential property purchase unless a citizen and also living here continually for 10 years.
    No citizen passport until 10 years.
    No dual passports as a citizen (like India china).
    No Medicare or welfare unless a citizen.
    No NZ special visa to work here unless NZ born.
    No PR (or Citizen) grant unless English level 5.
    Cancellation & deportation of the 3 million third world migrants in TR or Tourist or PR grants that should never have been allowed in.
    Full onshore health checks by government doctors.
    Full skills & financial capability test.

    • Love your work Mike.

      There is no one at all worth voting for.

      Every party and but for the rare exception, most independents, are self serving pricks.

      I don’t see a solution.

      • Ha I would pass and most Australians would agree with me.

        Australians would support a Royal Commission to stop the visa and migrant fraud that’s filling up Australia.
        An Australia now overrun by vast enclaves of unskilled useless unassimilated third world detritus / coming in to be our welfare & health care burden.
        The suggested migrant visa and citizenship controls are mild.
        In comparison to say China, India, Europe, Middle East or UK or USA.

        Go and try and work illegally in China as a ‘student’ or steal a Chinese job as a ‘foreign skilled’ worker : would you like me to post the rules ?

        Or try to own a Chinese established dwelling & sub let it out to cash in hand to 10 other foreigners (and get negative gearing).

        Or further filth up their society with vice & corruption.

        Go try & get unfunded / no tax ever paid social welfare or health care or try to drag in the rest of your family sick old and useless as a Chinese or Indian burden.
        -> See how far you get.

        You live in dreamland if you think Australia can continue to withstand hundreds of thousands of third world useless – 80% or more unskilled and a net tax & social burden to continue to pour in.

        Something is going to snap.
        And that includes not only stopping the intake of useless migrant economically and social destructive burden, but the ACTIVE DEPORTATION of a couple of million that should never have been allowed in.
        Because they are a deep pit hole of many hundreds of billions of costs and impact to Australia if we don’t.

      • Nah you didn’t Mike. You failed on your first point re “Australian values” suggesting entering muslims must renounce islam. Since the Australian constitution explicitly states that the free exercise of any religion can’t be prohibited, you’ve exhibited values that are clearly “UnAustralian”.

        Sorry m8, you’re out. Back to the old country for you.

      • s 116 says (in part) that the Commonwealth may not pass any laws that prohibit the free exercise of any religion. It certainly does not suggest that the free exercise of any religion cannot be prohibited, in Australia, by the States. There have been two attempts to change this via referendums in 1988 and 1944 (i.e. so that states could not prohibit a religion) and both failed. Notably, the most recent attempt was the cause of the largest ever failure, in percentage terms, of any amendment to the Constitution that has been attempted in Australia’s History.

        As the good Supreme Court Justice said while referring to s 116 “It makes no sense to speak of a constitutional right to religious freedom in a context in which the Constitution clearly postulates that the States may enact laws in derogation of that right.”

      • The point is that Islam is incompatible – Islam itself prohibits Muslims from adopting/upholding Australian values.

        Any truly moderate Muslim, which is an irrelevant minority, is considered an ‘Uncle Tom’.

      • Any truly moderate Muslim, which is an irrelevant minority, is considered an ‘Uncle Tom’.

        You do understand that there are a billion+ muslims, the vast, vast majority of whom are not extremist jihadis, right ?

        If we are to assume every Muslim is beholden to a fundamentalist interpretation of their faith, then it seems only fair to assume the same of every other religious believer. Tony Abbot is a hardcore Catholic with dual citizenship, I expect to see him deported posthaste.

      • So basically not being an extremist jihadi = you are a moderate Muslim that integrates super well into the West? Cool story.

  17. reusachtigeMEMBER

    Australia is underpopulated and a bit boring at times. It needs more people and the vibrancy that brings (along with the demand for housing which helps increase profits).