Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship. Will the minister update the House about the government's effort to reform the 457 visa structure to build fairer workplaces for all working Australians? Are there any impediments to doing that?
Opposition members interjecting—
I thank the member for Werriwa for his question. He, of course, cares about ensuring that young people and unemployed Australians in his electorate get an opportunity, and that is why we need to reform the 457 visa scheme. It has been identified that there are deficiencies in the scheme that would ensure that, if we were not to reform this scheme, there will be Australians that miss out on jobs.
This government will not allow that to happen. For that reason, we announced the reforms that are before the parliament to ensure that those deficiencies in the current scheme will be fixed, so that employers look locally first. We can have a discussion and a debate about this—and there will be attempts by those opposite to deflect and distract on things that are not relevant to the debate—but, when it all boils down to it, this comes down to whether employers look locally first.
It is this government's view that the very important temporary skilled scheme should be used, but it should be used when there are legitimate shortages in our economy. For that reason, the reforms will not be going to capping the scheme; they will be based on the legitimate shortages wherever they exist in the labour market. They will have to ensure that the skills shortages are legitimate and needed, and that can only be done by testing the market—
Speaker, I rise on a point of order—and it is a valid point of order—that goes to direct relevance. The question went to the issue of the legislation the government has before the House on 457 visas. So to be fully relevant, I hope the minister will let us know when that bill will be put to a vote.
There have been attempts by those opposite to distract from this debate by suggesting that the reforms are discriminatory. They are not discriminatory. We have a non-discriminatory immigration policy, and, as a migrant, I find it deeply offensive that people would suggest that we would do anything other than ensure that we recognise the contribution that immigration makes and continues to make to this country. This is about ensuring that local workers get an opportunity. This is about ensuring that young Australians that are going through training get an opportunity first. This is about ensuring that graduates that come out of university are offered entry-level, professional jobs before they are sought overseas. We should not be doing anything other than supporting these reforms, because they will ensure that, yes, the scheme will operate effectively, but it will also ensure that there is a legitimacy behind the applications. Currently that is not the case. It is quite surprising that the opposition choose not to support Australian workers and young Australians in getting opportunities—
It is on standing order 77, 'Anticipating discussion':
During a debate, a Member may not anticipate the discussion of a subject listed on the Notice Paper and expected to be debated on the same or next sitting day.
In actual fact, it has been anticipated.
These are the sorts of games we expect from the opposition. They do not want to talk about this matter, because in the end they are not concerned about Australian workers. This is the party of Work Choices trying to prevent opportunities for Australians. This is the party of Work Choices trying to deny young graduates entry-level professional jobs. These reforms are necessary to ensure they have those opportunities, and I would call upon the parliament to support reforms.