Margaret Quirk

Margaret Quirk

Minister for Corrective Services; Small Business

    Randall Inquiry Report anticlimax

    12/09/2007 9:30 PM
     
    12/9/07

    The report released today by the Federal Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Migration on the Inquiry into Temporary Skilled Migration was not worth the wait.

    Small Business Minister Margaret Quirk said the report would have little impact on the pressing need for skilled labour.

    “A wide range of industries and businesses in Western Australia are keen to fill their skill shortages from overseas, but the recommendations of the committee will do little to streamline the process,” she said.

    “Instead the report’s recommendations suggest further reviews, inquiries and audits.

    “The committee received both written and oral submissions, many of which were from WA firms and industry groups.

    “Despite this, there seems little evidence the committee appreciated the imperative for skilled labour in this State as urgent.

    “Also the ongoing issue relating to regional status appears to have been largely overlooked.

    “The WA Government has consistently advocated for a level playing field between all States and Territories in relation to regional status for migration purposes.

    “Maintaining the status quo only serves to ensure that Adelaide, Darwin and Hobart continue to have an unfair advantage over Perth.”

    The focus of the report is on the contentious issue of abuse of 457 visas.

    The exploitation of migrant workers by unscrupulous employers features in the findings that recommend greater levels of scrutiny and enforcement. Although welcomed, Ms Quirk noted that they added little to Mr Kevin Andrews commitment in April to do that very thing.

    “Legislation is yet to be passed implementing that promise,” she said.

    “It is gratifying to see acknowledgement that a transparent and consistent system of oversight by government is required.

    “Up until this time the unearthing of abuse has been largely fortuitous, frequently by union workplace delegates.

    “Underpinning the integrity of the system in WA is the firm commitment that migrant workers are paid a minimum wage.

    “Clearly the reason for this is to eliminate the prospect of exploitation and so that local workers are not undercut.

    “The report questions the utility of setting a minimum wage and has referred that issue to the Department of Immigration for further analysis.

    “The failure to recognise that this minimum standard is fundamental is short-sighted.

    “All in all it’s a disappointing response to a vital current issue.”

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