House debates

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Constituency Statements

Skilled Migration Program

10:41 am

Photo of Lisa ChestersLisa Chesters (Bendigo, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Workplace Relations) Share this | | Hansard source

Just how out of touch are the Liberals and Nationals when it comes to skilled workers and temporary work visas? News reports this week again show that the government have completely exited the space of making sure that locals get local jobs first. They are issuing more temporary work visas—like the 457 visa—to occupations which they previously slashed from the skilled occupations list. This is a demonstration that they have failed to invest properly in TAFE, and that they've failed to make sure that young Australians get the skills for the jobs that exist in Australia. It's scandalous that we have young people looking for work, older workers trying to retrain and can't get the TAFE courses they require and, as a result of not having enough skilled people locally, the government again looking to import these workers.

I also have to put the call out to the government: what are you doing to crack down on the exploitation of the temporary guest workers who are here in this country? Right now, as we speak, there are over 100 Chinese plasterers who are here as guest workers in our country. They are sitting in a shed in Hobart waiting to be paid. They have not been paid for over nine weeks now and counting. This isn't the first time that overseas workers have been so badly treated by employers in this country. It also happened at the Bendigo Hospital, where some workers were left as much as $20,000 out of pocket. This is what's happening on this government's watch.

Rather than cracking down on the exploitation of temporary migrant workers, rather than ensuring that local kids get a start, and rather than limiting the use of 457 visas, this government goes after the unions. Instead, it bullies and picks on unions. It's hard to believe that it issued fines against the CFMEU for the issue at the Bendigo Hospital and not against the company which didn't pay its workers. It is disgraceful that again in question time we'll hear this government get up and bag out the CFMEU, who are the only people standing up for the workers in Hobart who haven't been paid.

On this government's watch it is scandal after scandal. These workers come here in good faith to do a job, yet they are not being paid. When will this government crack down on the exploitation of temporary workers? And when will this government properly invest in TAFE so that we don't need to rely on temporary workers in this country and we give Australian kids and Australian workers a better go?