Published on July 31st, 2012 | by john.weir0
Australia urged to fast track visas for overseas workers
Industry bodies across Australia have urged the government to fast track applicants from overseas to help fill growing vacancies in its tourism sector.
The Australian Hotels Association has urged the Immigration Department to “fast-track” English-speaking workers from the US, Britain and Ireland.It’s branch in Western Australia wants to bring in gambling workers, beauty therapists, receptionists, waiters and bar attendants, and pay them the minimum award wage.
Meanwhile, the Cairns Chamber of Commerce has told the review that high salaries for mining workers are “skewing” the market rates for tourism workers, and wants to link the salaries of foreign workers to awards.
The NSW branch of Tourism Accommodation Australia has cited “significant difficulties” in sourcing Australian workers “at all levels of the business from bar attendants to managers” in Sydney, the NSW south coast, and the northern and inland regions.
The Immigration Department states in an industry discussion paper that employers would have to provide “substantial evidence of recent recruitment efforts and employment conditions” before winning approval for foreign workers.
“Recruiting overseas workers should not be used as an alternative to attracting local workers through better employment incentives such as improved working conditions,” it says.
The department insists foreign workers would have to be employed full-time, and notes that it is “current government policy” not to allow overseas workers to be paid less than $51,400.
A spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Chris Bowen refused to say if he supported the department’s proposal. “The government is currently working through the submissions and will respond in due course,” she said.
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