Reports today that Labor Leader Bill Shorten intends to take a tougher approach to 457 visas for foreign workers are laughable.
Mr Shorten is lying when he says Labor wants to remain the friend of blue collar workers. The truth is Labor has long abandoned blue collar workers for green voters in an effort to defend inner city seats from the Greens party.
The Opposition Leader and his party presided over a huge growth in 457 visa numbers when last in government and did little to protect Australian workers from being displaced by temporary visa holders.
Under Labor the number of 457 visa holders climbed from 68,000 in 2010 to more than 110,000 when they left office in 2013 and misuse of the 457 programme was rampant.
In one instance a company had 400 Chinese workers and just one Australian worker on a construction site. In another the workforce was almost exclusively South Korean with around 200 workers on 457 visas.
Under the Coalition Government the number of 457 visa holders has declined significantly by around 15,000 while at the same time hundreds of thousands of new jobs have been created for Australians.
The Coalition has strengthened integrity in the 457 programme through increasing resources for monitoring 457 sponsors, new obligations on those sponsors and additional penalties for those who attempt to game the system.
Whereas Labor cut staffing of the Fair Work Ombudsman when Bill Shorten was the responsible Minister, the Coalition has provided additional resources for the FWO to investigate and prosecute breaches of visa obligations.
These reforms ensure the 457 programme is a supplement to, not a substitute for, Australian workers.
Labor failed Australian workers when in government and Mr Shorten’s claims now to want to protect them are hypocritical.