The peak body for working people has welcomed the ALP’s announcements that restrict temporary work visas to jobs where there is a genuine skill shortage and protect against the exploitation of workers on visas.

The ALP will also raise the wage threshold for temporary work visas to stop business using the scheme to pay overseas workers less than locals.

The changes will ensure locals are able to fill jobs before businesses can bring in workers through the visa system. Currently four out of five temporary skilled visas are given for occupations that don’t have a skills shortage.

The most basic principle of our temporary skilled visa system should be that it never denies a local worker a job they are qualified for or could be trained to do, and that nobody should be exploited when they come to Australia to work.

The current system fails these tests.

Under the reforms a Labor Government would ensure that jobs are first available to locals and are not undercut by business owners exploiting visa workers.

They would also protect the integrity of our skills and licensing system by requiring temporary visa holders to have the same skills and licenses expected of locals doing similar work.

In regional areas where youth unemployment is moving towards 20%, there is no rationale for allowing employers to rely heavily on visa holders when locals are so clearly in need of training and employment.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Michele O’Neil:

“Employers shouldn’t be able to use the visa system to cut wages, avoid training locals and exploit workers on visas.

“If a local can do the job, or can be trained to do the job, then that job should go to a local.

“The system that the Morrison Government has overseen is allowing the mass exploitation of vulnerable workers who are often brought in specifically to reduce wages and conditions.

“All employers should have to hire and train locally before they can use temporary work visas. They must provide proof of their actions.

“An independent Australian Skills Authority overseeing how we meet genuine skill shortages and prioritisng getting local people into work is key to making that happen.

“The Morrison Government has made savage cuts to skills training, TAFE and higher education, then looked on as open rorting in the visa system made regional unemployment a crisis.

“We have to change the government and change the rules to ensure locals have opportunities and visa holders are not exploited.”