“The government’s proposed changes to the 457 visa scheme will improve its operation and reduce business costs, but it has missed the opportunity to do away with redundant regulation,” BCA Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said.
“A well functioning 457 visa programme is essential for bringing temporary skilled migrants to Australia to fill genuine skill shortages. It is critical that the programme has bipartisan and community-wide support.
“The government should be commended for commissioning an independent review into the programme, for conducting a transparent and consultative process, and for accepting the majority of the recommendations that flowed from it.
“The proposals to streamline visa processing, extend the sponsor period to five years and implement faster processing times for labour agreements are sensible changes that reduce regulatory costs for employers who are doing the right thing.
“The changed English language testing requirements allow greater flexibility while maintaining adequate standards and should be supported. The integrity of the system will also be improved through better enforcement of the requirement to pay market salary rates.
“The Business Council also welcomes the government’s commitment to re-examine the link between 457 visa sponsorship and the funding of training for Australians. There are multiple problems with the current training benchmarks. Any alternative approach need to be both more effective and avoid imposing additional costs on business.
“It is disappointing that on Repeal Day the government has declined to support the independent review’s recommendation to abolish labour market testing. This is a classic case of a regulation that adds to business costs, without improving the integrity of the scheme.
“Promptly implementing the recommendations of the independent review will increase flexibility, improve system integrity and reduce costs, while ensuring the 457 visa scheme is meeting its purpose to fill genuine skill shortages,” Ms Westacott said.