I do question where Minister O’Conner plucked this charmingly round figure from? At a first guess I’d suspect thin air. Perhaps he will authenticate this number in the next few days.
I do note that the matching Press Release on his Ministerial website conveniently makes no mention of this claim.
Now this may seem an odd thing to say but I’m sitting here in my office feeling really quite sorry for / upset for the staff who work in the various 457 Business Temporary Entry sections of DIAC. I interact with them on a regular basis and I find them to be highly professional and efficient. To have their big boss basically say that they have made 10,000 mistakes in granting 457 visas cannot sit all that well or be a major boost for moral within DIAC.
I also wonder if the Minister was considering the DIAC 457 Monitoring unit staff when he quantified rorting at this level because I have not seen any evidence from ongoing monitoring action to suggest that 457 visas or Standard Business Sponsorships are being cancelled at anything like this level – quite the reverse in fact. So is the Minister suggesting that the staff employed here are not doing their job? What was he thinking?
For a long time now I have felt that the level of 457 monitoring DIAC have been able to accomplish has been hamstrung by a lack of resources. If this is the case then again it’s a bit rich to blame DIAC staff when it is the Government who is responsible for the allocation of funds available to get this important job done.
The problem here is that this is no joke. We have a Minister telling us that we could have a “stock” (his word) of 457 visas holders greater than the population of Wollongong in three years if “demand continues at the current growth rate” The latest 457 Summary Report on which Minister O’Conner is basing his comments does make this point – “However, there has been a general downtrend in visa grants since the peak in August 2012. This downward grant trend continued in March 2013.” Does this mean he will need to find a smaller Australian city to compare the stock of 457 visa holders to soon?
There have been numerous protests at the Minister’s statement from business and employer groups as the government again seems to be rushing to fix something that is not broken. The Minister is anticipating changes to the 457 system without actually articulating them – another Federal government tactic designed for a political sound bite without considering the consequences for any of the relevant stakeholders.
I also feel no confidence whatsoever in the new monitoring system to be put in place by the Minister… ‘We have taken action to stop employers misusing the program, and are giving Fair Work inspectors the powers to act on 457 abuses.’ Fair Work Australia’s recent record is less than impressive and while this may seem like a sensible idea as they are the body dealing with workplace issues you’ve got to wonder how well the synergy between two huge Federal Government departments will work. If the Minister is to be taken at his word a DIAC Unit set up specifically to monitor the 457 is being circumvented by staff with no real experience in this area or immigration. Does this now mean that DIAC and Fair Work Australia staff will be responsible for monitoring 457 Sponsors and visa holders? Sounds like a recipe for bureaucratic red tape and inter-departmental confusion and duplication to me.