Labor has no credibility on migration or Australia’s 457 visa programme.
The Rudd-Gillard Labor Governments not only lost control of our borders – they lost control of our temporary visa programmes as well.
Under Labor the numbers of foreign workers in Australia on 457 visas nearly doubled from 60,000 primary visa holders in 2010 to more than 110,000 when they left office in 2013.
Under the Coalition the number has fallen to 96,000 by the end of May this year.
At the same time the Coalition which has a plan for jobs and growth oversaw the creation of more than 440,000 new jobs since September 2013.
These facts demonstrate the Turnbull Coalition Government’s commitment that Australians have priority in the job market and that overseas workers should be recruited only where suitably qualified local workers are not available.
Labor’s crocodile tears for Australian workers belie its record.
Labor cut staffing in the Fair Work Ombudsman office from 900 in 2009-10 to 723 in 2013 – a reduction of 20 per cent – when Bill Shorten was the minister.
Labor cut funding for the FWO by 17 per cent from $150 million to $124 million – again, when Bill Shorten was the minister.
Labor also cut resourcing to my Department for monitoring employers of 457 visa holders.
In contrast, the Coalition has increased funding, and we are giving the Fair Work Ombudsman greater powers to prevent exploitation of vulnerable visa holders.
As announced in the Budget, we have delivered a $20 million increase in funding for the Fair Work Ombudsman to ensure that temporary visa holders are paid and employed in line with Australian standards.
Further, the Coalition Government is:
- increasing the penalties that apply to employers who underpay workers and who fail to keep proper employment records;
- introducing new offence provisions that capture franchisors and parent companies who fail to deal with exploitation by their franchisees;
- strengthening the powers of the Fair Work Ombudsman so that it can more effectively deal with employers who intentionally exploit workers by compelling those employers to produce information and answer questions; and
- establishing a Migrant Workers Taskforce in the Fair Work Ombudsman that will target employers who exploit migrant workers.
Only a Coalition Government can be trusted to protect Australian workers and meet the needs of Australian businesses.