The Government’s controversial bill cracking down on 457 visa abuse has passed the House of Representatives, at 73 votes to 72.
Independent MPs Andrew Wilkie and Bob Katter, together with Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt voted with the Government, while Rob Oakeshott and Peter Slipper voted with the Opposition.
The Migration Amendment (Temporary Sponsored Visas) Bill was debated in Parliament yesterday, with amendments proposed by independent MP Bob Katter.
Katter's amendments include a cap of 6000 on the annual 457 visa intake, as well as an online register of employers using the visas and the roles they are using them for.
The Bill must now pass the Senate, which will sit tomorrow, before it can be drafted into law.
Former Prime Minster Julia Gillard, who was not present in Parliament for today’s vote, had singled out the Australian technology industry for taking advantage of the skilled migrant visa program, arguing they were using the program as “a substitute for spreading important economic opportunity to Australian working people’’.
She claimed IT companies in Australia were the largest users of temporary workers outside the Western Australia and Queensland resource sectors, but was later criticised by members of her own party for the way the crackdown was communicated.
The Bill amends the Migration Act, forcing companies to place advertisements for jobs to prove they have looked to fill them locally first. It also gives Fair Work inspectors powers to investigate potential breaches.
It comes alongside a raft of other measures slated for July 1 and designed to close loopholes in current legislation. The measures will see enhanced regulatory powers for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to ensure the working conditions of sponsored visa holders meet Australian standards, and local workers aren’t exploited by the program.
The measures also include the introduction of a genuineness criteria under which a nominated worker may be refused a visa, and an increase in market salary exemption from $180,000 to $250,000 to cut out undercutting of local workers,