Is the federal government’s guest worker visa program growing faster than its ability to manage it?
Employers are taking advantage of a migration category with unlimited intakes – in December 2005 the intake had increased 35% on the average monthly intakes for 2004-05. I found the following comments interesting, especially as Australia is facing increasing competition from countries around the world in the Education and Backpacker markets.
“It’s an under-the-radar revolution in in-bound labour hire, its dimensions and accelerating pace only grasped by migration agents and short-staffed employers quietly passing the word.” Workers on these visas receive a permit for a two-year stay, renewable for two years if they prove satisfactory.”
(Victoria Laurie The Weekend Australian 11-12 March 2006)
National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) feedback indicates that prior to Christmas 2005 there was a ‘significant influx’ of holidaymakers looking for work. The problem for growers/employers is that the visa only requires 3 months cumulative work, not neccessarily with the same employer.
Global Horizons, a labour hire company specialising in finding overseas workers for local producers, says a key problem with this visa is the failure to require more seasonal work during the second 12 month period. For consistency in labour supply the thinking is that it’s worth considering a guest worker scheme.
(David McKenzie – The Weekly Times 4 January 2006)
Suggestions from the Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF)
A year ago TTF’s Christopher Brown said:
“It’s ironic that the country’s largest employer, the industry that employs 250,000 Australians in the bush, let alone well over half a million around Australia, is that we’re struggling to attract staff. And so many communities, particularly regional communities see tourism as their salvation; see the growth of jobs across the skills range of tourism as they what they want.”
“We’re looking at proposals like foreign students that graduate in tourism courses in Australia being able to stay on for a couple of years and work after that time.”
“We’d look at some sort of programs attracting people from the Pacific Islands into Australia as sort of a guset worker regime to build their long-term skills and meet our short-term need.”
PM Mark Colvin ABC 23 March 2005