The controversial 457 legislation was passed by the lower house yesterday. The changes will make it harder for Aussie businesses to hire an offshore worker. The bill was strongly opposed by many business groups and heavily debated by the parliament, but still passed with 73 votes to 72.
The proposed bill compels employers to implement labour market testing. They are required to provide evidence of labour shortage before they can recruit foreigners through the 457 visa system.
The changes were a result of the reported misuse of the sourcing program. Last week, Tata Consultancy (TCS) was accused by an Australian news portal for overuse of 457 visas. The report cited quotes from former employees who said the offshore IT services company flew in workers from India, without advertising job vacancies for Australian workers to reduce costs. A TCS spokesperson said the allegations weren't substantiated.
Peter Strong, Council of Small Business of Australia Executive Director, insisted that there is no problem with the current system. He said the new policy, along with a limit of self-education tax deductions at $2000, will make it difficult for small businesses to hire skilled staff.
"The bill, if enacted, will seriously restrict the ability of employers to efficiently fill gaps with skilled workers, especially professional health workers and skilled trades workers not found in some regions or parts of the economy." said Jenny Lambert, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry director of employment, education, and training.