From Tim Colebatch at The Age:
Rudd’s efforts to reach out to business have got nowhere. Some groups made impractical demands for Labor to withdraw its legislation to stop rorting of section 457 visas – which, as I reported earlier, has meant that in two years Australian-born workers have gained just 34,000 new full-time jobs. Brendan O’Connor as minister deserves credit for trying to restore the integrity of the system so that it operates as intended.
See also Colebatch’s earlier article, The books are being cooked on 457 visas –
Last month Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor announced new reforms to stop alleged rorting of section 457 visas. Prime Minister Julia Gillard then beefed up the issue by telling western Sydney the reforms would stop ”foreign workers being put at the front of the queue with Australian workers at the back”.
Since then Gillard’s opponents have claimed she is out to destroy the 457 visa program, which allows business to import temporary workers at will if they cannot find suitable workers in Australia. And at the other extreme, some tell us the whole 457 program is a rort allowing business to bring in foreign workers to undercut wages and save firms from the need to invest in training their own workers.
So far Gillard seems to be losing the debate; but then, she usually does. What do the figures show?
They show that while demand for section 457 visas had declined in most sectors with the slowing economy – visa applications from mining companies are down 15 per cent so far in 2012-13 – that is outweighed by surging demand in other industries that seems at odds with what we know about how they are faring.
Until mid-2011, few firms used 457 visas to import cooks; in 2010-11, just 45 visas a month were issued for skilled kitchen staff. Yet by January this year, 1690 cooks had been granted 457 visas, 240 a month. Cooks have suddenly become the biggest users of section 457 visas.
Why? It’s not because of any surge in demand. The Bureau of Statistics estimates that spending in hotels and restaurants fell 1.1 per cent last year, as Australians economised on discretionary spending to avoid more debt. Where is the labour shortage that requires us to suddenly import thousands of foreign cooks?
It’s not just cooks. This year alone, the number of chefs, their superiors, entering on 457 visas has shot up 150 per cent to almost 90 a month. Imports of cafe and restaurant managers have quintupled, from 27 a month to 134 a month. Does anyone smell a rat here?
Digging right down to the true root of the problem, I blame usury.
The central evil in our wonderful world of “capitalist” “competition”.
It means the “survival of the fittest”, you see — another pernicious doctrine.
The “fittest” are those most willing and able to borrow and then repay the banks their debt “money” … plus usury.