Business wins new 457 rort: pretend to advertise locally

Via the ABC:

Foreign workers can be brought into Australia on the new 457-style visa as long as employers tried to hire Aussies first … on LinkedIn.

The Government this month tweaked its rules around the new 457, now dubbed the “Temporary Skill Shortage” visa, reversing an earlier decision to reject ads on the social network as part of labour market testing.

This testing — where employers are required to demonstrate they advertised locally for jobs — is designed to ensure Australians are given priority before overseas workers are hired.

At the end of 2017, 75,610 overseas workers were in Australia on a 457 temporary work visa.

The new rules mean an employer can satisfy testing by advertising in two places — for example on the Government job portal Jobactive and LinkedIn.

A three-week LinkedIn campaign costs approximately $500, while advertising on Jobactive is free.

‘Backflip’ in latest change

Labor immigration spokesman Shayne Neumann said this was another “backflip” from the Government and proof it “botched” changes to Australia’s skilled migration program.

He said Labor would introduce an independent skills assessment body if Labor won Government that would determine “genuine” skills need.

The Government announced major changes to the 457 program last year, but since then has made several tweaks following a backlash from migrants and businesses.

The changes have lead to a reduction in 457 visas. 25,000 grants to foreign workers were made in the year to March compared with 46,000 in 2016-17.

A spokeswoman for Alan Tudge, the minister responsible for the program, declined to provide comment on the LinkedIn tweak, but emphasised that the rules were designed to strike an appropriate balance between prioritising Australian workers and recognising industry recruitment practices.

Social media advertisements had been accepted in the past but the old requirements were less prescriptive.

In March, rules were introduced that specifically required evidence of two advertisements with national reach booked within the previous 12 months.

The changes barred Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram as well as general classifieds sites like Gumtree.

As of June, LinkedIn ads are acceptable again and the window of the ads was reduced to six months.

LinkedIn different to Gumtree

Wayne Parcell, immigration partner at professional services firm EY, said he welcomed this development.

“It was probably not clear enough to policy makers that beyond your own profile contact network on LinkedIn, there are also the LinkedIn job boards for which many employers, including ASX-listed companies, pay a fee, and the service has a national reach like other recruitment websites,” he said.

He noted the latest changes also allow industry-specific recruitment websites to be used, but LinkedIn ads that are designed to reach only certain contacts — for example posts visible only within someone’s network — are not acceptable.

Kevin Lane, president of the Migration Institute of Australia, said the March changes tightened up labour market testing but went too far on LinkedIn.

He argued LinkedIn was often used for senior executive positions, much more so than something like Gumtree.

“The paid LinkedIn is maybe seen to be a higher quality — it’s only used by people who are really serious about getting someone,” he said.

Programmers, chefs, cooks and accountants are among the most common occupations in the temporary foreign worker visa program.

Anyone would think that Australia had a tight labour market and none of the below was happening:

  • The issue culminated in 2016 when the Senate Education and Employment References Committee released a scathing report entitled A National Disgrace: The Exploitation of Temporary Work Visa Holders, which documented systemic abuses of Australia’s temporary visa system for foreign workers.
  • Mid last year, ABC’s 7.30 Report ran a disturbing expose on the modern day slavery occurring across Australia.
  • Meanwhile, Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO), Natalie James, told Fairfax in August last year that people on visas continue to be exploited at an alarming rate, particularly those with limited English-language skills. It was also revealed that foreign workers are involved in more than three-quarters of legal cases initiated by the FWO against unscrupulous employers.
  • Then The ABC reported that Australia’s horticulture industry is at the centre of yet another migrant slave scandal, according to an Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into the issue.
  • The same Parliamentary Inquiry was told by an undercover Malaysian journalist that foreign workers in Victoria were “brainwashed” and trapped in debt to keep them on farms.
  • A recent UNSW Sydney and UTS survey painted the most damning picture of all, reporting that wages theft is endemic among international students, backpackers and other temporary migrants.
  • A few months ago, Fair Work warned that most of Western Sydney had become a virtual special economic zone in which two-thirds of businesses were underpaying workers, with the worst offenders being high-migrant areas.
  • Dr Bob Birrell from the Australian Population Research Institute latest report, based on 2016 Census data, revealed that most recently arrived skilled migrants (i.e. arrived between 2011 and 2016) cannot find professional jobs, with only 24% of skilled migrants from Non-English-Speaking-Countries (who comprise 84% of the total skilled migrant intake) employed as professionals as of 2016, compared with 50% of skilled migrants from Main English-Speaking-Countries and 58% of the same aged Australian-born graduates. These results accord with a recent survey from the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, which found that 53% of skilled migrants in Western Australia said they are working in lower skilled jobs than before they arrived, with underemployment also rife.
  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) latest Characteristics of Recent Migrants reportrevealed that migrants have generally worse labour market outcomes than the Australian born population, with recent migrants and temporary residents having an unemployment rate of 7.4% versus 5.4% for the Australian born population, and lower labour force participation (69.8%) than the Australian born population (70.2%).
  • ABC Radio recently highlighted the absurdity of Australia’s ‘skilled’ migration program in which skilled migrants have grown increasingly frustrated at not being able to gain work in Australia despite leaving their homelands to fill so-called ‘skills shortages’. As a result, they are now demanding that taxpayers provide government-sponsored internships to help skilled migrants gain local experience, and a chance to work in their chosen field.
  • Then there is new research from the University of Sydney documenting the complete corruption of the temporary visas system, and arguing that Australia running a “de-facto low-skilled immigration policy” (also discussed here at the ABC).

I’ll say it again. The ghettoisation of Australian cities is the plan.


  1. kiwikarynMEMBER

    But all you need to do is advertise a job, state a salary range that is well below what the job is worth, and no one will apply. Then you can claim that there are no available locals, so you can hire a coolie from overseas. How dumb is the Govt? Or are they just paid to look the other way?

    • A little bit of A, and a little bit of B.
      But clearly importing foreign workers to work for cheap is government policy whether they admit this publicly or not.

    • truthisfashionable

      This is a good point. If we, as Australian LinkedIn users see jobs advertised well below the usual pay scale we need to be proactive and share it to our Network that the job ad is nothing but a coolie checklist item.

      Maybe by highlighting these ads we as a community can drive change by embarrassing the job advertisers.

      • People in the skilled trades (for example, crane operators) already do this amongst themselves.

    • That’s what a regional QLD local council did, and it’s why I’m in the country now. They advertised for a couple business analyst roles for $70k pa at a time when BAs were getting at least $95k and much more in cities with high housing costs. This was a mining town with housing that minimally cost $350 pw if you could get it. And that’s a big if when you’re competing with miners on 6-figure salaries, and open houses are held ONLY during weekday business hours convenient to agents and to miners on their weeklong breaks, but impossible for those trying to hold down a daytime office job. More likely you’d be stuck in a sharehouse.

      The winners were two people to whom they issued 457 visas, including me. I used that job as a stepping stone to gain Oz experience that enabled other employers to consider me more favorably, and am now back up to market rates as an Oz citizen.

      The IT department was primarily immigrants, because unless you’d been in the area before the mining boom and bought property, it was difficult to make ends meet with the property, food, fuel and other transport costs in the town. (Petrol costs and very high airfares made it difficult to even leave the place.) Plus, you’d be out in the middle of nowhere, away from networking opportunities and other professional opportunities. For those that had other options — anyone with permanent residency or citizenship — it was a deal with lots of down-sides, without a high salary to make up for them.

      • Hobbit, now it is probably $54k/year. Infuriating stuff. The same happened in USA under Obama’s H1B visa program. Of course Americans and Canadians can do the jobs! SpaceX is not allowed to hire foreigners but still managed to invent reusable rockets!

        Of course Aussies and Kiwis can work as business analysts and if the salary got up to $70k, it would have attracted more Aussies to the profession and the salary would have come back down to $60k again.

      • $70k is what Aussies WOULDN’T work for. Market was at least $95 back then, and what I did choose to work for. I’m currently on more than $120K in Sydney. To attract a Sydney person back in 2011 to that regional area, they likely would have had to pay AT LEAST that. Back then Sydney rents were likely around equivalent to what they were in that regional area, and Sydney people had to factor in the opportunity cost of lost networking opportunities plus additional cost of living expenses plus additional travel expenses to see family not located in that regional area.

        With these sorts of low-scale opportunities, it won’t bring people into the field. There aren’t enough of those opportunities to cause wage equilibrium due to more people entering the field. Just enough to provide good opportunities for a handful, if wages that work for an Aussie are offered. The key is that it’s THAT undesirable a place for someone with tech skills and professional motivation to advance their career, that some amount of extra pay is necessary to compensate for what they’re having to give up to work out there. It’s like mining in the Pilbarra, but with a much, much, much lower volume of workers that requires inflating salaries to get staff, but won’t employ enough people for those salaries to ever get lower.

    • The intention, along with PR ‘skilled migration’ is to flood the market and push downward pressure on salaries as the Australia becomes more of a ‘service’ economy, rather than a maker and exporter of things.

  2. It’s not like the system could not be easily gamed before, this is just streamlining the gaming of the system.

    LinkedIn may have some sizeable merit over Gumtree but it is by far not enough

  3. reusachtigeMEMBER

    A good decision! Locals cost way too much to employ and are often on unsociable drugs. Bringing in freshly imported human capital at cheap prices is a good business decision as these people will work very hard, especially with the threat of losing their visa, and will often work for less than the official rate. Any business not making use of this scheme is reducing their profits and probably deserves to go out of business.

    • Also this imported labor make very good tenants for investment properties. Often they are not used to indoor plumbing and will not complain when it is broken, in fact they do not complain about much, even when you tell them they have to pay rent in cash or in other “favours”.

      • Re: “other favours” – let me point out something wrong with that logic: If they’re not used to indoor-plumbing, they may not be used to “A Lot Of Other Things™️” (such as say, “personal hygiene” and “good scrubbing”) , therefore the question arises: Are you sure you want “other favours” from them?

  4. I don’t give a stuff about where the job is advertised. If they want to import because of a ‘shortage’ then I’d expect the salary to be set at the greater of 20% premium on equivalent jobs or 20% more than median wage.

    • Yep. Order every visa worker to pay $25k/year income tax to the ATO. If the tax is not paid within 12 months of landing here, deport them.

      USA has long banned the unskilled wives of H1B visa staff from working in USA. We should have the same law here.

      Also have jail for wage theft.

  5. $4000 to advertise on linkedin for 6 months as required, underpay some 457 pleb by 10k per year, straya!

    linkedin have done some heavy lobbying??

    • Not $4000 if you buy a package subscription from LinkedIn. Typically the recruitment agency/immigration agent will handle this all for your company. They know how to fill in government paperwork as many of them used to work for the immigration dept.

      The new 457 visa is called the 482. The new laws for 482 visa’s let you deduct all these recruitment costs from the new immigrant’s wages – changes made at the last minute thanks to industry lobbying.

  6. Did Australian employment advertiser’s just kick an own goal with their long term 457 visa lobbying strategy?

  7. adelaide_economist

    Just seems inefficient. It was more direct when we just allowed advertising on Facebook in foreign languages which openly advertised below award wages. Avoided all the waste of locals applying for jobs they were never going to get and foreigners thinking they might actually receive something close to minimum wage.

    • People from O/S can still see the linkedIn ads, especially if they have a mate who already has a few Aussie contacts.

  8. Jumping jack flash

    “He said Labor would introduce an independent skills assessment body if Labor won Government that would determine “genuine” skills need.”

    Exactly what we need. Establish a baseline, then after that we can determine what is actually happening with the numbers of available skilled people. Until that time a baseline is established they cannot actually say there is a skills shortage, because, for all they know, there may be *gasp* a skills surplus, and they wouldn’t know.

    And hopefully it is not the empty, populist, mutterings that are only possible because they’re not actually in power, and therefore not controlled by the actual masters of the economy, ie:

    “The Government announced major changes to the 457 program last year, but since then has made several tweaks following a backlash from migrants and businesses.”

    And probably the banks quietly had an opinion of it as well. More people means more debt, at least eventually, and more debt means higher house prices, and higher house prices means awesome LVR.

    • mild colonialMEMBER

      That establish a new body thing is just fake news as well. They’ve had employment lists for years, they just go quiet on them when they don’t want to know.

      • Jumping jack flash

        you never hear of a baseline though, and never hear of how many skilled professionals we have, per profession, even though we collect all that information in the census.

        Then, compare that to the number of job ads, which they already seem to have, and you’d have a pretty good idea if there were more people than jobs, or more jobs than people.

        Come on, surely the ABS could put a couple of hours into doing that instead of thinking up new ways to cook the CPI to show that inflation is between 2 and 3% regardless of any input parameters.