Labor strikes a compromise 457 visa crackdown deal with crossbench MPs

The Federal Government has struck a compromise deal with crucial crossbench MPs for its crackdown on the 457 foreign worker visa scheme.

The Immigration Minister secured the vote of Independent Tony Windsor by making changes to the labour market testing rules.

The Coalition says the changes make the bill worse and they voted against the amendments.

But Labor had enough crossbench votes for the amendments to pass the House of Representatives, which also passed the Gonski School Funding reforms today .

A crackdown on 457 visas was announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard during a week-long mini-campaign in Western Sydney in March.

The new laws will force employers to do local labour market testing to prove they cannot find an Australian citizen to do the job before sponsoring an overseas worker on a 457 visa.

Employers will also have to spend a percentage of their total payroll on training local staff and 457 visa holders.

Fair Work inspectors will be empowered to investigate potential breaches of the system.

The Government says the laws will safeguard Australian jobs and ensure overseas workers are not exploited.

It had been negociating with crossbench MPs about potential amendments in a bid to have them passed before Parliament rises on Thursday.

In March, Ms Gillard said the visa program was “out of control” and has stated that jobs should be given to Australians first.

Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor has claimed there have been more than 10,000 instances of rorting by employers – a claim he later said was an estimate.

The crackdown has been criticised by business as an unwarranted measure and by the Greens and Opposition as having tinges of xenophobia.

It has also been the source of internal friction within the Labor party, with some MPs calling for more details on the rorting and others saying the scheme should be scrapped altogether.

Unions have been pushing for the tighter regulations to ensure workers under the visa scheme have more workplace protections.

Courtesy of  ABC (Chief political correspondent Emma Griffiths)

Administrators note:

This is somewhat of a concern when the Immigration department themselves haven’t decided how this market testing model is going to work, or how it will work any better than before.

We await with bated breath, but what is sure is that it will add another layer of bureaucracy,cost and delay  to the exercise of securing workers in shortage, which was the reason the program was initiated those years ago.