Subjects: Putting Australian Workers First – abolition of 457 Visas.
Peter Dutton, what's wrong with the current scheme as far as you're concerned?
Good morning Steve. Look, a number of problems. We saw rorting. We saw difficulties around the application of the scheme. There was no prior work experience required. There were all sorts of problems around labour market testing where most occupations were exempt from advertising to try and get a local worker into that job. So it was really racked with difficulties and we've decided to abolish the 457 Programme.
To address some of the concerns raised earlier, I think we're pretty much on the same page. That is that we believe very strongly that the first principle is that we should be putting Australians into Australian jobs and if the worker or the employer can demonstrate that there's not somebody to fill that job then we can look at a short term stream for two years and a medium term stream for four years where a higher level of skill is required.
So many of the health departments, including in Queensland, bring people in under a medium term stream now under the new arrangements, particularly where they can't have those skills held here in Brisbane.
But the other aspect to it Steve is that we want to make sure that the training is taking place locally so that we can train up, whether they're younger workers or mature age workers, people that have been made redundant, people that are looking to change perhaps towards retirement or maybe phase down to one or two days a week leading into retirement. So there are a number of aspects of the new arrangement which I think will serve us well, but the 457 Programme had been discredited and we took a decision to abolish it.
I'm talking with Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. I think I called you Education Minister, my apologies.
But I wanted to ask you about education, because Brisbane is an education town and it does rely on a combination of both overseas students who apply for specific sorts of visas to come and study here - many of them try and work here at the same time - as well as specific sorts of lecturers who have skillsets or qualifications in certain skillsets. What are the implications for Brisbane's entertainment sector? We have major universities in this city that really rely on our getting the right sort of people with the right sort of skills to teach in our education institutions.
Well Steve, what we're saying is first and foremost the default position has to be to test the local labour market, to advertise, to try and get an Australian worker into that job. If the company can demonstrate that that's not possible, then there's an option under a two year visa for a short term stream. There is no permanent residency outcome at the end of that, so it's only a temporary arrangement. The person goes back to their country of origin after they've completed that work.
If it is for a university lecturer, for example, or a neurosurgeon or somebody that brings a specialist set of skills, there is a more defined list in the medium term stream which is for four years and they do have the prospect of staying as a permanent resident and then becoming an Australian citizen after that.
So to go to your earlier conversation, the whole idea is to try and target those people with the skills where there is a shortage to try and enhance the local market. Hopefully that lecturer then provides a passage of those skills to people under the lecturer and we train up and provide more support around training a local workforce so that when the position is next advertised or when we need to expand that business or that employment arrangement at the university, we can have those people that have been locally trained.
So there is still a prospect of bringing in people on a short term basis or on a medium term basis, but not under the old 457 arrangement where essentially whilst it was for a four year term, it provided a permanent residency outcome, passage onto citizenship and many people I think were more concerned about that than actually the work they were engaged to do. So lots of rorts that I think we've now brought to an end and I think people can have greater faith in the new arrangement that we've introduced.
I'm speaking with Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. The person I was speaking with Minister was Steve Baxter who's an entrepreneur and investor, founder of PIPE Works. I'm not sure – are you still with me, Steve Baxter? Are you still there?
Yeah I'm here Steve.
Your question was specifically about how it affects the high tech sector I think, wasn't it? What this will mean for getting the right sort of skills to train people in the digital economy, the new economy?
Yeah look, I'm obviously keen – the feedstock for the industry, the tech start-up sector is young people, young, skilled, highly skilled, talented people. So my thing is provided we're going to actually redirect more of that skilled immigration into that I'm stoked. We should go hard into that and less in the KFC 457’s and waitresses and waiters.
Can you speak to that at all Peter Dutton?
Well Steve, I think that's exactly what we've done. I mean, we should be encouraging businesses like Steve's, particularly in start-ups, to firstly engage the local talent and if that needs to be supplemented or they can't find the right skillset locally then absolutely. Search internationally for the best talent, bring them in and that's a great boost to that business offering and the products are better, the business is more successful. They end up employing more local people. That's a great thing.
But as Steve points out, there are now about 200, more than 200 employment classifications that we've knocked out from the old 457 Visa arrangement because we do believe there was rorting going on and we do believe that Australians were being displaced by the employment of foreign workers. And there is a place, as Steve rightly points out, but it's about getting the balance right and I think that's what we've tried to achieve here.
Yeah. Why don't we go harder? If tech start-ups and high tech is the way of the future - and it is, I think, there's no denying that - why don't we actually proactively go out there and get those people into this country so they actually - instead of being reactionary here, be proactive and sort of say well, if you've got these skills, we actually want you, because we don't have enough of those skills in Australia it’s a given. So why not get on the front foot of this and actually put a plan out there we can all get behind?
Well Steve, I think it's a fair point, but if you look at - I mean, you know your sector better than me or the listeners to Steve's programme, but there is a lot of money that we've invested as a Government into this very space. It's one of Malcolm Turnbull's main passions, is to try and create that industry.
But I don't want to be employing the people into your business. I want you to be selecting the talent and deciding who comes into your business. The only thing that I'm saying from a Government perspective is where it's possible, I want that person to be an Australian to fill the Australian job and if you need to go to whatever part of the US or Europe or Asia it is to bring in that talent, to supplement your business and to make it more successful, that's great, but that is an issue for business to identify that talent.
We're providing the framework where it can be brought in and we just want to make sure that you've tested the local market, that there is work experience, that it is a legitimate arrangement and if hopefully through the training it's also required to be provided by the employers under this programme, hopefully we can then provide training opportunities for more Australians so that we can supplement your workforce into the future.
So I think we provide the framework, but I don't think the Government wants to get into selecting people for particular businesses or sectors. I think we've tried to provide the framework around start-ups, investment in start-ups and hopefully generating more capital around that space because it is an exciting and innovative space and it is a big employer in Brisbane and Queensland and will continue to be. So we're just going to try and get that balance right between the local workforce and what talent you need from overseas.
I have to let you go apparently Minister. I appreciate you coming on this morning,
Peter Dutton. Thank you.
Thanks Steve’s. Thank you.