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Wednesday, 19 April 2017
Transcript

Interview with Karl Stefanovic, Channel 9, Today Show

Subjects: Putting Australian Workers First – abolition of 457 Visas.

E&EO…………………………………………………………………………………………..

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton joins me now from Canberra. Good morning to you.

PETER DUTTON:

Good morning Karl.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Well, if it looks like Donald Trump, feels like Donald Trump, then as the Tele points out this morning, it's got to be Donald Trump, doesn't it?

PETER DUTTON:

I just wish they would draw me with that sort of hair Karl.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

We can do that.

PETER DUTTON:

I think most Australians for a long time have been watching this space and we have been pointing out deals done with fast food outlets that have preferred young foreign workers over young local workers. We stamped all of that out so it is about trying to find Australians to put them into jobs.

In regional towns, particularly say in North Queensland or in the Northern Territory, they do struggle to find Australians for jobs, particularly in the tourism industry. So there is some flexibility there, but this is really about putting Aussies first for Aussie jobs.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Ok. The PM is building a wall if you like to lock out foreign workers though, isn't he?

PETER DUTTON:

No we are trying to get the balance right. I think the fact that the 457 numbers almost doubled during Labor's period in government, we have got that down now under 100,000.

But we believe that the first principle should be to get an Aussie into the job. If you can't do that, then you need to advertise, you need to go through all of the extra conditions that we have put on and in that circumstance then you can employ a foreign worker on a temporary basis in that job.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

You don't like the comparison with Donald Trump?

PETER DUTTON:

I'm not fussed either way. I just think that if you look at the facts here, we do have the need for a foreign workforce in some circumstances, but I think it had become the default position in some instances and we decided to clamp down on that. I think if you go to areas where they have got 14, 15, 16 per cent youth unemployment and they’ve got young foreign workers coming in to work at McDonald's or KFC, I just think people say, ‘what's that about?’ So we’ve tightened it up and I think it's a good outcome.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

So we learn this morning that business will pay into a national fund to train Australian workers to fill skilled shortages, is that going ahead?

PETER DUTTON:

Well that happens already. There’s a training fund that they have to contribute into,  or they have to provide training to their workforce. So we will have some more to say about that in the Budget. But yes we do want to continue to see businesses pay to support the training of young Australians, of older Australians that might find themselves made redundant or at the end of their work life or just after a change of pace maybe working or one or two days a week. So we do want to put more funding into training, but we will have more to say about that in the Budget.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

So it's essentially a foreign worker tax on Aussie companies?

PETER DUTTON:

Well it’s about making sure we can train up Australian workers for Australian jobs  and that’s the priority of the Turnbull Government. The Prime Minister has been very clear about that.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

So it already exists, but you're going to up it, is that what’s going to happen?

PETER DUTTON:

Well it already exists and we are going to make some changes…

KARL STEFANOVIC:

…that means increasing it?

PETER DUTTON:

Well in some circumstances it may do, but we will wait to see for the Budget…

KARL STEFANOVIC:

…so that's a yes?

PETER DUTTON:

The ultimate – well, again Karl, there are different scenarios and different visa classes here. But the bottom line is that, yes, we do want to get more money into training to help young Australians get trained up for Australian jobs.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Do you know what it sounds like for business? It sounds like another great big new tax.

PETER DUTTON:

Oh well not at all Karl. I mean, it’s a visa class which should exist only in rare circumstances. It shouldn't be a default position to put a foreign worker into an Australian job and we're trying to flip that around. We're doing that.

As I say, I think most people are amazed when they worked out that Bill Shorten had done this deal with McDonald's and KFC for foreign workers to come and work in McDonalds when Australians were prepared to do those jobs.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Businesses have a right to know how much more they are going to pay though don't they surely? How much more will they pay?

PETER DUTTON:

Well we have just delivered a tax cut to businesses...

KARL STEFANOVIC:

…no just in relation to this, how much more will they pay?

PETER DUTTON:

Hopefully out of the tax cut they can employ more people...

KARL STEFANOVIC:

…but how much more will they pay?

PETER DUTTON:

In terms of the funding into the training fund – all to be announced in the Budget only a few sleeps to go Karl.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Ok well The Australian seems to have a fair bit of detail on it this morning.

PETER DUTTON:

Well I've seen The Australian story and I don't think they’ve got much detail to be honest. But we have not been making a secret about the fact that we want people, businesses that have to employ overseas workers, as part of the visa condition, to pay into a training fund so that we can train more Australians.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Ok. So reading this morning too and there's a lot of detail around, IT businesses are not happy. They’re saying there’s going to be a drastic shortage of workers. Did you even consult them?

PETER DUTTON:

We consulted plenty of businesses. In fact, there was a review…

KARL STEFANOVIC:

…did you consult IT though?

PETER DUTTON:

Yes absolutely and I can say to that industry that sure you might need some overseas workers,  but  you  need  to  look for Australian  workers first.  The   default

position can't be not to train your Australian workforce or not to seek out young Australians who could do an apprenticeship or be sponsored through a university  and then work in those companies.

I want young Australians, not on the dole, I don't want them on social security, the Government wants them working and we want Australian jobs for Australians.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Because there are very high profile IT business people in the paper today saying that there’s just not going to be enough, a shortfall for some time. Are you going to stopgap that?

PETER DUTTON:

Let them explain the detail of that Karl because we have gone through and analysed and in circumstances where they can't get an Australian worker, they can still bring somebody in, but on a temporary basis. In certain industries and, as you say, we have cut down dramatically on the number of industry or employment  classifications
– we have tightened it up, there is no question about that. But if they have got a particular case to put then let's hear it as to why they can't employ Australians over foreign workers.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Ok. Do you know of Mike Cannon-Brookes? I think he is the co-founder of Atlassian.

PETER DUTTON:

I don’t know him, but…

KARL STEFANOVIC:

…his tech company is bigger than Qantas. He said to The Australian that 457 Visas were essential for Australia and any move to make bridging the talent gap more difficult would be bad for the country.

PETER DUTTON:

Well let's have a look at what work they’re doing in the local market. How many young Australians are they employing? Are they going into schools looking for young kids to come and work in jobs? Are they employing mature aged workers who have found themselves out of a job elsewhere? Let's have a look at the details.

We're happy to work with business and, as I say, if they can't find an Australian for a job and they have advertised for an Australian for that job, the other conditions are met, then they can bring somebody in, but I don't want that to be the default position. I want the default position to be the Australian worker for the Australian job.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

I think this will be popular, you've actually done something, may well it continue.

PETER DUTTON:

Well we are happy to have your blessing, thanks Karl.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Not that it will mean anything to anyone, but you're hoping for a little kick in the polls wouldn’t you out of this?

PETER DUTTON:

I think Australians have been wondering in this space for a long time, as I say, why hasn't it been tightened up? We have tightened it up, but ultimately in the migration portfolio frankly we have been pretty busy with boats and all the rest of it.

So I think this is a welcome development and I think Australians would accept the default position for business to seek out an Australian for a job before you employ somebody from overseas.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Good on you Pete. Next time you’re on we will whack some Donald Trump hair on you too.

PETER DUTTON:

Thanks Karl.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Part of the friendly service.