Senate debates

Thursday, 15 February 2018


Migration Amendment (Skilling Australians Fund) Bill 2018, Migration (Skilling Australians Fund) Charges Bill 2017; In Committee

1:40 pm

Photo of Doug CameronDoug Cameron (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Human Services) Share this | Hansard source

Here we go again. This is a government that simply cannot be trusted. That's the problem: they can't be trusted. I seek leave to move amendments (1) and (2) on sheet 8372 together.

Leave granted.

I move the amendments:

(1) Schedule 1, page 8 (after line 10), after item 14, insert:

14A At the end of subsection 140GBA(4)

Add "The period must not start earlier than 4 months before the nomination is received by the Minister.".

(2) Schedule 1, item 15, page 8 (after line 24), after subsection 140GBA(6), insert:

(6AA) The Minister must not make a determination under subsection(5) unless the Minister is reasonably satisfied that any advertising of the position undertaken in the determined manner:

(a) will be targeted in such a way that a significant proportion of suitably qualified and experienced Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents would be likely to be informed about the position; and

(b) will set out any skills or experience requirements that are appropriate to the position.

(6AB) A duration determined for the purposes of paragraph (6) (d) must be at least 4 weeks.

These amendments try to deal with the lack of certainty that has been expressed by business, the vocational education system, academics and states and territories around the country. These are designed to make sure, if we've got labour market testing, that the labour market testing is understood, that it is genuine and that those employers that want to bring in overseas workers properly test the local market. It's to make sure that there are no suitably qualified and experienced local workers readily available who cannot get access to the employment to fill the positions.

The bill doesn't legislate strict labour market testing. The government's bill asks Australians to trust the immigration minister. For anyone listening in, if you know the immigration minister, you should be very, very wary about that. It's also saying that the immigration minister will do the right thing. Watching the immigration minister in action, who would assume this minister would do the right thing in a legislative instrument? He has proved time and time again that he can't be trusted to do the right thing and protect labour market testing. This is a minister who actually attacks working people, and attacks them outrageously, from the coward's castle of the floor of the House of Representatives. When workers are sitting in the viewing areas of the chamber trying to see how this system is working, to see how parliament's working, Minister Dutton attacks them. It is absolutely outrageous.

The ACTU testified at the Senate inquiry into the bill:

… quite frankly, given the government's history on labour market testing, why would you trust this government to implement a serious regime of labour market testing? We just don't.

The opposition leader, Mr Bill Shorten, introduced a private member's bill in 2016 to introduce more rigorous requirements for labour market testing to be incorporated into legislation or associated program guidelines. Labor's amendments that are before the Senate now would ensure that labour market testing is advertised for a minimum of four weeks, that it has been conducted no more than four months before the nomination of a worker on a skilled visa, and that it is targeted in such a way that a significant proportion of suitably qualified and experienced Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents would be likely to be informed about the position. And it would ensure that there are not unrealistic and unwarranted experience requirements for vacant positions with the effect of excluding otherwise suitable Australian applicants.

These are similar to the labour market testing requirements that Labor successfully fought for and included in amendments to the Building Code as part of the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013. For the crossbench, we are saying that the Senate has already adopted these types of safeguards for labour market testing. I call on the crossbench to ensure that in this bill we do the same thing as we did with the ABCC bill and make sure that Australian workers have access to the jobs and that they are not simply sent overseas, because it's easier for the employer to do so.

The Turnbull government has failed to protect penalty rates for 700,000 workers, and now it's failing to protect the first shot at local jobs for local workers. We will always fight for strict labour market testing that ensures local workers get the first shot at jobs. On that basis I call on and appeal to the Senate to be consistent with what the Senate did in the ABCC bill and protect Australian workers, because, as you've heard in the responses in this committee debate, there is a complete lack of clarity and credibility in what the government is proposing. It is absolutely essential, in my view, that the amendments we propose on sheet 8372 are adopted.

The CHAIR: The question is that amendments (1) and (2) on sheet 8372, as moved by Senator Cameron, be agreed to.


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