Towns could be decimated without overseas workers: Joyce
IMPOSING stringent conditions on temporary working visas in an attempt to give Australians jobs first could actually end up decimating regional communities.
The 457 visas allow overseas workers to temporarily work in Australia in skilled positions Australians cannot fill.
Minister for Immigration Brendan O'Connor has announced he is tightening the reigns on the visa requirements so employers would have to further prove the position can not be filled locally.
But Nationals Party Senate Leader Barnaby Joyce is at a loss to understand why the government is trying to "create a problem where there is no problem".
He said the closure of an abattoir that filled positions with overseas workers because Australians did not want to do the job, would decimate a regional town.
"Any person who can is working in the mining industry is and the jobs left behind just don't get done," he said.
"Any person who has capabilities have left a lot of roles in the towns and gone into the mines and these jobs have to be filled.
"The only way you can get them done is if someone from overseas comes over to do them.
"There are jobs in regional Australia that people in cities and the western suburbs just don't want to do."
The proposed changes also include strengthening compliance powers and raising English language requirements.
"We want people to bone our carcasses not recite poetry to them," Senator Joyce said.
Rorting the system has also fuelled the changes, Mr O'Connor explained.
He gave examples of employers putting 457 visas workers into positions where there is no skill shortage and sponsoring visas for friends.
The mining industry is the third largest recipient of 457 visas but witnessed a 21% decline in visa numbers in the second half of 2012.
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche rejected any notion the mining and resource sector saw the visas as cheap labour.
"The 457 visas have been an important mechanism for making sure keys positions are filled to make sure we are not impairing the total operation by leaving people out of key roles," he said.
"We hope that the legitimate use of 457 visas by our industry is recognised."