Foreign workers rare in Gilmore

Gilmore Labor candidate Fiona Phillips and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten addressed a forum in Nowra on April 20. They do not agree with the Coalition's new 457 visa policy. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the changes on April 18 and is supported by Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis on the changes.
Gilmore Labor candidate Fiona Phillips and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten addressed a forum in Nowra on April 20. They do not agree with the Coalition's new 457 visa policy. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the changes on April 18 and is supported by Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis on the changes.

It has been revealed a small percentage of people on the South Coast are employed under 457 visas.

In Nowra on Thursday, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said there were 411 people employed under temporary visas on the South Coast. 

“The current member for Gilmore [Ann Sudmalis] has a new-found interest in these 457 visas,” he said. 

“The policy announced this week is a cosmetic con job. It is window dressing.”

On Wednesday, April 19 Mrs Sudmalis wasn’t as forthcoming with numbers and couldn’t say how many people were working on 457 visas in her electorate. 

“I am not able to search that information,” she said.

“Most of that is not electorate based but I do know Gilmore has 457 visa holders.

“I have had to sort out some problems that have occurred with migration agencies not doing the right thing with 457 visa holders.”

Mrs Sudmalis said skilled worker visa holders had worked in Gilmore as metal welders, fishermen, restaurant staff and fast food employees. 

A 457 visa is a program for Australian employers to sponsor skilled overseas workers to work in the country temporarily. 

Businesses have to prove they couldn't find a suitable Australian worker to fill the job before their desired employee is granted the visa. 

The 457 visa sub-class will be abolished entirely. In its place will be two new visa programs, one two-year and one four-year, called the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa.

The new visas will come into force in March 2018. While more than 650 jobs are currently available for 457 holders, that number will be reduced by 200 under the new program.

Mrs Sudmalis said the changes would “encourage some industries to seek local employment first”.

"You have to start somewhere,” she said. 

“It will be an incremental change. If you bring things in quickly and not consider possible consequences then you will have unacceptable negative consequences.

“Ultimately, it will mean for an employer to get a temporary skilled visa permitted, they will have to absolutely demonstrate they can’t employ locally.” 

There will however still be opportunities for overseas workers to gain employment in Gilmore, Mrs Sudmalis said. 

“We still have backpackers so there is still a way for people from overseas to be able to work in a legit way without having to go through the 457 visa process,” she said. 

Mrs Sudmalis said there was a shortage in registered nurses in aged cage facilities. 

“We can’t get sufficient registered nurses in aged care facilities,” she said.

“I will be looking to see if there is an opportunity to improve this.

“Certainly in the region, there are lots of care nurses, but not registered.”

An initiative to train Australians in areas where skill shortages have been identified will be announced in the May 9 budget, Mrs Sudmalis said. 

Mr Shorten said 92 per cent of the people currently on temporary work visas will still be able to get 457 visas under the changes. 

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