Press Release Author: - Mahesh Sharma and Ben Woodhead, Australian IT
Industry: Internet & Online
Press Release Summary: DRACONIAN 457 visa regulations introduced two months before Saturday\'s federal election rout may be scrapped after pleas from industry to drop the rules that have all but killed off applications for temporary IT work permits.
Press Release Body: DRACONIAN 457 visa regulations introduced two months before Saturday\'s federal election rout may be scrapped after pleas from industry to drop the rules that have all but killed off applications for temporary IT work permits.
The Information Technology Contract and Recruitment Association has claimed Labor immigration spokesman Tony Burke made a late pledge to address the problem that flows from changes to 457 visa rules introduced on October 1.
Mr Burke stopped short of agreeing to dump the controversial changes, however, stating only that Labor may suspend the regulations while consultations with the contract labour industry take place.
A spokeswoman for Mr Burke yesterday declined to comment on immigration matters before Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd appoints his ministry later this week.
Association president Penny Coulter said Mr Burke committed to review the matter himself should he be made immigration minister, or to brief the new minister.
She said Mr Burke indicated that fast-tracking of IT visas should be allowed, although companies found to be in breach of 457 visa rules would be barred from using any fast-track process.
The association has been pushing hard to overturn the last-minute 457 visa application changes since they were introduced by former Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews on October 1.
The changes prevented labour hire firms from sponsoring 457 workers unless they undertook to meet their expenses, keep on their books a percentage of local workers who were receiving training, and invest at least 2 per cent of their gross wages bill on training.
Before the regulations were introduced, ITCRA members were making 400 applications a month to import technology professionals using 457 visas, but executive director Norman Lacy said these had dropped to zero.
\"There has been a massive impact because other countries have continued to recruit Australian ICT professionals in comparable numbers. So there has continued to be an outflow in the last seven weeks, but no inflow of ICT professionals in Australia.\"
Mr Lacy said the ITCRA tried to discuss the changes with the former minister, but its attempts fell on deaf ears.
\"What we faced was someone who refused to even answer letters. You had to ring his office to even discover whether or not your letter had been received.
\"We didn\'t get any acknowledgement, didn\'t get any engagement and didn\'t get any contact.\"
One of the most concerning parts of the whole ordeal was the \"undemocratic\" means by which the minister introduced the regulations, Mr Lacy said.
Mr Andrews first tried to introduce the bill in parliament, but it didn\'t get through. Then he made changes to the regulations using his powers in the Immigration Act, and did this just before the election was announced and parliamentary proceedings would be frozen.
Mr Lacy questioned whether this was an appropriate use of the power granted to the minister under the Immigration Act.
\"I doubt the intention of the act was to allow a change in policy about which industry it operated in. I think it was for emergency situations.
\"These regulations were brought in surreptitiously and fundamentally circumvented the democratic process. They dramatically changed the 457 visa regime.\"
-- Mahesh Sharma and Ben Woodhead, Australian IT
Visa for Australia and Australia Visa Application made easy! Australian Working Visa made possible to easily have one! Visit Australia Immigration at http://www.nationalvisas.com.au