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Australia – Highly skilled workers exempt from labour market testing

27 November 2013

Australia's Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator Michaelia Cash, has announced that employers recruiting for highly skilled occupations will be exempt from the Labour Market Testing (LMT) requirement, reports workpermit.com.

As a result those employers will not need to advertise jobs in Australia before offering them to temporary foreign workers. A policy U-turn on an earlier pre-election commitment to scrap the LMT requirement altogether.

In June 2013, Australia's previous Labour government passed legislation which required Australian employers to advertise jobs in Australia under LMT before employing foreign workers under the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457).

When the Australian parliament debated the legislation in the summer, the opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, opposed the introduction of LMT saying that it would be costly and unnecessary. Mr Morrison is now the Immigration Minister for the new Coalition government. He has faced repeated calls from Australian business organisations to repeal the LMT legislation.

Mr Morrison gave his first speech on the subject since the election in October. In it, he told employers that he would not tolerate any abuse of the system. He said 'If you abuse [the system] then you can expect me in my first responsibility for law enforcement in immigration to be as tough on that as people-smugglers find that I will be tough on our borders'.

Employers’ organisations, such as the Australian Mines and Minerals Association (AMMA) and Master Builders Australia, have called for the LMT requirement to be scrapped.

However, research by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union shows that applications for 457 visas have dropped by -13% since it was announced that LMT was to be introduced. Between May and August 2013, there were 23,450 requests for 457 visas, a drop of 3,500 compared with the same period in 2012.

Ms Cash concluded: 'The government fully supports the principle that Australian workers have priority, but to bind employers up in needless red tape will only stymie Australian business and cost Australian jobs over the long run. That is why in implementing Labour's labour market testing policy the government has adopted a sensible approach by exempting highly skilled occupations from the requirement.”

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