The Federal government will slap a levy on employers of foreign workers coming into the country on the new Temporary Skill Shortage visa that’s expected to reap more than $1 billion.
The TSS is the replacement for the politically toxic 457 visa program which was having problems in the Australia first narrative which has wormed its way into Coalition thinking since the rise of far right parties in Europe and the election of US President Donald trump.
Almost 100,000 foreign workers have used the 457 visa to gain employment in Australia with tech and telecom jobs featuring large in the program.
While the overall number of 457 visas issued over the last decade (excluding IT) rose by just 2 per cent, there had been a 136 per cent rise in 457 visas issued for IT workers. With entry level tech jobs, such as systems administration and IT support, the growth rate for 457s is a whopping 480 per cent.
“We’re putting jobs first. We’re putting Australians first,” Mr Turnbull said when introducing the TSS. Applicants will need to pass tighter English language and work experience tests and must also be under the age of 45.
“We will no longer allow 457 visas to be passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians,” the Prime Minister said.
Many in the tech community have questioned the crackdown on work visas saying Australia needs to bring in the best and brightest from overseas to be competitive in the future.
Now there’s a new slug to grumble about.
From March 2018, businesses with turnover of less than $10 million a year that employ foreign workers on the new TSS visas will need to make an upfront payment of $1200 per visa per year. For workers coming in on permanent 186 and 187 visas it’s a $3000 one-off payment.
For businesses with turnover of more than $10 million a year the TSS levy is $1800 per visa per year while the permanent work visas attract a one-off slug of $5000 per employee.
The levy replaces the current training benchmark obligations for employers of 457 visa people. The government says the current scheme has not been properly policed.
The new scheme is estimated to bring in an extra $1.2 billion over the forward estimates and will be tipped into the Skilling Australians Fund to support the training and development of Australian workers.