IR expert to oversee temporary skilled migration review
Monday, 14 April 2008
The Rudd Government has appointed industrial relations commissioner Barbara Deegan to examine the integrity of the temporary skilled migration program, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans said today.
Senator Evans said Ms Deegan will address concerns about the exploitation of migrant workers, salary levels and English language requirements
'Ms Deegan will draw on her extensive expertise in the industrial relations sector to review the Temporary Business Long Stay subclass 457 program and provide options to improve the integrity of the scheme,' Senator Evans said.
'Ms Deegan will take leave from her current position as Commissioner of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission for six months to undertake this independent role.
'Ms Deegan will consult with overseas workers, union and industry representatives as well as relevant Commonwealth, state and territory agencies.'
A working party of industry and trade union leaders will be formed to provide a forum for Ms Deegan to access relevant information.
The terms of reference for the review include examining:
- Measures to strengthen the integrity of the temporary skilled migration (Subclass 457 visa) program;
- The employment conditions that apply to workers employed under the temporary skilled migration program;
- The adequacy of measures to protect 457 visa holders from exploitation;
- The health and safety protections and training requirements that apply in relation to temporary skilled workers;
- The English language requirements for the granting of temporary skilled migration workers' visas; and
- The opportunities for Labor Agreements to contribute to the integrity of the temporary skilled migration program.
The review will report periodically to the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and the Deputy Prime Minister with a final report to be presented by 1 October 2008.
Senator Evans said Ms Deegan's review would complement the recommendations of the External Reference Group, which was established in February to look at ways to streamline visa processing times and improve the flexibility of the temporary skilled migration program for employers.
'The Rudd Government is determined to address the skills and labour shortages we are currently experiencing,' Senator Evans said.
'We are working with industry to improve the efficiency of our skilled migration program while ensuring we continue to provide employment and training opportunities for Australian workers.
'The External Reference Group has consulted widely and in an interim report has flagged the concept of establishing an accreditation system whereby 'low risk' employers with a good track record can have 457 visa applications fast–tracked by the department.'
The final reports from Ms Deegan and the ERG form part of the Australian Government's medium and longer term strategy to improve the transparency, accountability and integrity of the temporary skilled migration program.
Any recommended initiatives will also complement broader labour market policies, including the development of a new fair and flexible workplace relations system.
Barbara Deegan holds a law degree from the University of Tasmania. After a time in private practice, and then a period with a TAFE teachers' organisation, she joined the Australian Public Service in the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations.
She held the position of Assistant Secretary of the Legislation Branch of the Department of Industrial Relations for a number of years before being appointed as the Principal Registrar of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.
Subsequently she became the Australian Government's representative at the International Labour Organisation in Geneva, and was appointed to her position as a Commissioner with the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in 1996.
Last update: 13 August 2008 at 17:14 AEST