Rorting the system: 457 visas in Australia

Rorting the system: 457 visas in Australia

Voters over the weekend delivered a stinging defeat to the Australian Labor Party (ALP), led by Kevin Rudd, ushering in a new era of government.

Tony Abbott has led the strong conservative Liberal-National coalition into power after 6 years of tumultuous leadership squabbles and rocky relations with the business community. Mr. Abbott triumphantly announced “From today I declare Australia is under new management and is once more open for business.”

To say that the next 3 years will be of great interest in relations with between business and government would be an understatement – not least in relation to the controversial 457 Visa.

Back in June of this year, the just recently re-instated Head of State, Mr. Rudd, yet again ruffled feathers amongst the Australian business leaders. In passing the hotly contested 457 Visa or Migration Amendment Bill (passed by just one vote in the House of Representatives) our former Prime Minister failed to repair the strained relationship between the ALP and the business community.

The decision had many critics1, but put simply, the visa 457 is the entry point of choice when looking to bring skilled workers into Australia to fill what many deem to be a ‘gap in the market with regard to skill and experience’ 2 – an especially pertinent concern within the oil and gas community.

Due to the passing of this legislation, employers must now conduct labor market testing to prove difficulty in finding local workers – before they can hire foreign workers by advertising in newspapers for up to four months—not an ideal situation in this fast paced and dynamic industry.

On the other hand, there is now a minimum financial commitment that companies are now obligated to invest in staff training. Though perhaps expensive in the short term, this may actually be beneficial in the long term to both companies and their skilled-up workers. In addition to this important amendment, the fact that 457 visa holders can now stay longer (they will have 90 days to find another job following termination rather than the previous 28 day time limit) makes it much more reasonable for foreign workers.

All of this was in the endeavor to make it more difficult for employers to “rort [scam] the system”.

According to the Hon Brenden O’Connor, Minister for Employment, Skills and Training, “This legislation contains a sensible solution to the loophole in the Migration Act which meant overseas workers on vessels engaged in laying pipeline on the seabed did not require a work visa. The resources are governed under Australian law. The jobs should be too.” 4

If you are an employer, be sure to know your legal responsibilities inside and out. Furthermore, ensure your HR and legal departments are very well versed in the minutiae of the passed legislation.

If you are an employee, know your rights – the following links may provide you with useful information.5 6

Naomi Borg
Business Development Manager–Australia
The Global Edge Consultants

The Global Edge Consultants is a full service firm specializing in the recruitment of technical and project personnel for industries such as Government, Oil and Gas, Petrochemical, Chemical, Engineering, Power, Nuclear and Manufacturing. Check out our careers page!







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