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Bill Shorten calls for increasing 457 visa fee

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Bill Shorten said the industry should expect tougher visa rules under a Labor government that would encourage the use of local workers.

Federal opposition leader Bill Shorten has supported an increase in the 457 visa fee, warning Australia will “pay the price” unless local jobs are prioritised and the use of low-cost foreign workers reduced.

He said the industry should expect tougher visa rules under a Labor government that would push up the use of local workers.

Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten at the National Press Club in Canberra, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten at the National Press Club in Canberra, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017.
AAP

Every year, thousands of employers sponsor overseas workers on 457 visas to work in Australia. A sponsoring employer pays $380 fee for making an application and workers pay $1060.

Mr Shorten said too many foreign workers were being used as a low-cost substitute for Australian workers.

"Last year immigration minister issued  over10, 400 visas for trade and technician jobs yet apprenticeships in these exact sectors are in decline.

"It is too easy to import our skills than train our people. And too many work visas are being used as a low-cost substitute for employing an Australian, not to address a genuine shortage.  

“In terms of the application fee for 457 visa, I do think that is an issue. If it becomes too easy and too cheap to import someone rather than train someone, inevitably, like water flows to the lowest level, people will go to where the opportunity is,” Mr Shorten told the National Press Club.

He warned that Australia will “pay the price” for importing workers, rather than train local manpower.

“Do we really need to import early childhood educators? Do we really need not be training our own diesel mechanics and motor mechanics and fitters and tuners?

“Do we really need not be training our own electricians for the future?” he said.

Before last year’s federal election, Mr Shorten had announced Labor’s policy on 457 visas that required employers to advertise the position for at least four weeks before they could sponsor a foreign worker on 457 visa.

The policy also sought to increase the sponsorship fee for workplaces with more than half the workforce made up of 457 visa-holders would pay an extra $1500 for each additional visa.  

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