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Fake Greens try to scuttle 457 visa changes - by Leith van Onselen

Unbelievably, the party that is supposed to safeguard the Australian environment – The Australian Greens – is trying to scuttle the Turnbull Government’s modest changes to so-called ‘skilled’ 457 visas. From The Canberra Times:

The Turnbull government’s plan to scrap the 457 skilled migration visa faces new hurdles in the Senate with the Greens set to refer it to a committee to examine if it could harm the economy, hobble individual businesses or put at risk Australia’s multicultural fabric.

Trade spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young will move on Monday to secure crossbench and opposition support for an inquiry into the replacement of the 457 class with a pared down system with fewer eligible occupations and shorter visa periods, and which is separated from subsequent citizenship eligibility…

“If Australia is going to attract the type of expertise, intelligence and experience that we need, we have to engage with our region and the wider international community,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

“This inquiry will help to untangle some of the mess that was made when Malcolm Turnbull decided to use the cheap politics of racism and crass anti-migrant sentiment to appease the conservative rump of his own party…

“To stride confidently into the global future, we will need to attract and retain the best and brightest minds to our innovation, IT and education sectors. That can only be achieved through careful consideration of policy, not sloganeering and jingoistic hyperbole”…

Until now, 457 visas lasted four years and holders were able to apply for permanent residency at their conclusion and then serve as little as a 12-month waiting period before applying for full Australian citizenship.

However, the new arrangements will limit most visas – particularly in the lower paid occupations – to two years with a single renewal and no access to permanent residency at the conclusion.

Seriously, what hope is there of having a rational debate about immigration settings when The Greens play the ‘racist’ and ‘xenophobia’ card whenever the issue arises?

If Hanson-Young had bothered to examine the facts pertaining to 457 visas, she would have identified four major problems with the system that need fundamental reform, 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 either to higher levels of unemployment, or to labour market changes in specific skilled occupations.

These shortcomings have been expertly identified by Dr Joanna Howe, a senior lecturer in law at the University of Adelaide (see here and here), the recent Senate report entitled A National Disgrace: The Exploitation of Temporary Work Visa Holders, and by the Australian Population Research Institute’s (APRI) recent report entitled “Immigration overflow: why it matters”, which examined the widespread rorting of Australia’s 457 visa system, especially within the IT sector.

The Department of Immigration has also for several years shown that skills shortages are near ‘historical lows’, with major labour surpluses present in IT, accounting and engineering – where 457 visa use along with the granting of permanent residency visas are especially high:

ScreenHunter_16436 Dec. 02 07.49

To its credit, the Turnbull Government’s replacement of the 457 visa system overcomes some of these problems by:

  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 (albeit employer-sponsored rather than independent); and
  4. Mandatory English language proficiency.

But rather than safeguarding the environment, and calling for more sustainable levels of immigration, The Greens have instead shown themselves to be the party most in favour of open borders, mass immigration, and a ‘Big Australia’.

Recently, The Greens’ lobbied for Australia to increase its immigration intake by another 50,000 people a year, from already turbo-charged levels, without any corresponding offsets!

This comes despite the latest federal government State of the Environment report, released last month, revealing that Australia’s natural environment is being placed under acute strain as Australia’s population grows out of control. It also comes on top of growing concerns about the deleterious impacts mass immigration is having on living standards in the big cities, such as packed trains, worsening traffic congestion and deteriorating housing affordability.

The fact of the matter is that there are few better policy solutions to protect Australia’s environment and living standards than limiting population growth and abandoning plans for a ‘Big Australia’, which necessarily means significantly cutting immigration.

However, instead of living up to their name, and advocating for a smaller population trajectory on behalf of Australia’s environment and living standards, The Greens have chosen to howl ‘racism’ and ‘xenophobia’ in response to sensible changes to Australia’s immigration program.

The bottom line is that The Greens are a fake environmental party hellbent on destroying the Australian environment and incumbent residents’ living standards via never-ending mass immigration and strong population growth.

unconventionaleconomist@hotmail.com
This article first published at https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2017/04/fake-greens-try-scuttle-457-visa-changes/

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