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Report recommends robust new foundations for 457 programme

The report of the independent review into integrity in the 457 programme released on Wednesday, 10 September 2014 recommends that robust new foundations should be implemented, the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash said today.

‘The report identified 22 recommendations that strive to achieve a balance between encouraging flexibility and productivity with strengthening the integrity of the 457 programme and ensuring that overseas workers do not displace Australians,’ Minister Cash said.

‘I thank the members of the independent panel for their thorough and diligent work.’

The panel members were led by John Azarias and included Jenny Lambert, Katie Moylan and Professor Peter McDonald.

‘The panel have provided a comprehensive analysis of the programme and recommendations to strengthen integrity and guarantee that businesses that sponsor 457 visa holders do not discriminate against Australian workers,’ Minister Cash said.

The panel conducted extensive consultations across Australia—almost 200 submissions were received and 150 organisations from various stakeholder groups were consulted, including employers, unions and individuals.

Notably the independent panel found no evidence to back the claims made by the previous Labor government of widespread rorting of the programme.

The Coalition government is committed to ensuring the 457 programme is optimised to meet the needs of both the Australian community and the business sector.

‘The government will announce a detailed response to the report shortly,’ Minister Cash said.

Administrator’s note:

It was encouraging to see that the report confirmed no widespread rorting of the system, but that doesn’t mean that no rorting was occurring , and it would have been valuable to know more about the level uncovered. In any relaxation, the government has to realise at least on the basis of past performance, that it signals – to some employers and sectors at least – a lowering of priorities for compliance.

The government, if it is  serious about maintaining the integrity of the system, has to equip the DIBP with the tools and the personnel on the ground to monitor and enforce the correct application of the core elements of the program – market salary and  requiring nominees to work in the occupation nominated.

It is regrettable that some members of the government still don’t actually understand the 457 program with various recent references to minimum salary etc.being made in respect of the proposed % reduction of the TSMIT.

The new regional agreement rules for relaxing the threshold by up to 10 % to allow a level playing field will of course be rorted by the same employers who were responsible for premature abolition (without explanation) of the regional 457 program  some years ago, at the same time as saying they can’t be competitive with the current threshold.

This move will only increase the need for vigilence, but I suspect the change will be in statute and regulation alone which will allow the flood-gates to open!