The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs conducted a Public Inquiry in regards to the role of 457 visas in the Australian workforce. The focus of the inquiry included, but was not limited to the following:
- Effectiveness of the current program in identifying skills shortages and whether there was a causal relationship with a decline in Australia’s national training effort
- Their accessibility and the criteria against which applications are assessed
- The process of listing occupations on the Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List and the monitoring of such processes
- Process of granting such visas and the monitoring of these processes, including the transparency and rigour of the processes
- Economic benefits of these visas
- Impact of the recent changes accounted by the Government
- Capacity of the system to ensure the enforcement of workplace rights
Immigration Solutions’ Principal Lawyer, Anne O’Donoghue, was invited, as one of three epresentatives for the Law Council of Australia, to comment on the 457 visa and her particular expertise of the program in practice in front of the Senate committee yesterday (23rd May 2013). She appeared in conjunction with various leaders of industry in Australia, including representatives from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, various leading union members as well as representatives from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
This opportunity gave Immigration Solutions and Mrs O’Donoghue to present practical examples to the current benefits and limitations of the system in assisting the government with its current intention to refine the 457 program. There was general recognition regarding the importance of the 457 program in filling a targeted shortage of short-time skills in the Australian labour force with many leading industry representatives highlighting the many benefits of the current scheme.
This was an important instance in which the public discussion for the 457 program included practitioners, such as Mrs O’Donoghue, to contribute knowledge as to the practical realities of how the 457 program operates, to the debate in Canberra.
The Committee is due to report on its findings in early June.
The full transcript of the hearing here.