Subjects: 457 visas; asylum seekers, Donald Trump.
KARL STEFANOVIC: The Government is set to slash how long foreign workers on 457 visas can stay in the country in a bid to tip the odds in favour of Aussie workers. Under the proposal the visa will be cut to just 60 days – down from 90. Christopher Pyne and Anthony Albanese join us now. Good morning guys.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Karl.
STEFANOVIC: Christopher, down from 90 to 60 days. How is that going to affect fruit growers?
PYNE: Well Karl, when Labor were in office they increased the length of time that 457 visa holders could look for job after their current job finished from 28 days to 90 days so we are going to reduce that. It’s part of a range of measures that we are introducing to tighten up, and have already introduced, to tighten up the 457 visa class.
STEFANOVIC: Is that going to be enough to cover the fruit picking seasons, 60 days?
PYNE: Well it’s the time post the visa where they can actually look for another job. So it certainly will be enough time for them to find another job if there is one there. But we obviously want to put Australian workers first and there are also jobs where there aren’t enough Australian workers, like for example fruit picking, as you picked, where we need to bring in foreign workers on short-term visas. But we’ve got to make sure that it’s tightened up. But when Bill Shorten was the Minister for Employment it spiked by 60,000 in one year.
STEFANOVIC: The problem is growers will tell you every day of the week they can’t find Aussie workers to do those jobs.
PYNE: Well, they are obviously finding them because they are picking their fruit and they are picking their grapes and they are getting into export markets and they are making money. We are obviously trying to help them. But we don’t want to open the floodgates because that wouldn’t help our economy and our Australians who need to look for jobs.
STEFANOVIC: Bill Shorten did issue around a third more 457 visas.
ALBANESE: No. Let’s be very clear Karl. This is just playing politics. That was the time of the mining boom when you had a skills shortage. For those reasons foreign workers can be necessary. But we need to ensure that if Australians are available then they get the first opportunity to fill those jobs and we also need to train young Australians.
STEFANOVIC: OK let’s move on. There’s been a major breakthrough in our refugee policy. But big questions also remain over the Australian plan to settle asylum seekers in the US. Christopher, there are fears this deal could obviously come unstuck given Donald Trump – his election win. Is it going ahead or not, effectively, this morning, can you say?
PYNE: Well it’s definitely going ahead. The arrangements have been put in place and the process has begun.
STEFANOVIC: And how many?
PYNE: Well that will be up to the United States in terms of going through their own processes and choosing those that they wish to resettle in the US.
STEFANOVIC: But you are saying this morning that it is definitely going ahead and those refugees will be going to the United States?
PYNE: Well the process has begun and there is absolutely no reason to believe that it won’t go ahead and the number of course will be up to the US. What we of course have done though is we are continuing to clean up the mess left to us by the Labor Party. We now have resettlement in third countries – in Cambodia …
ALBANESE: You know you have been the Government for a while, Christopher. It’s possible to make a statement without talking about the former Labor Government.
PYNE: Well it is sad in fact that Labor left us with this terrible legacy and we are getting on with the job of fixing it.
ALBANESE: People have been on Manus and Nauru for too long. They need to be settled in a third country and that’s a good thing if this goes ahead.
STEFANOVIC: OK, let’s talk just really quickly on Donald Trump. We’ve only got about 30 seconds left. You must be delighted Christopher?
PYNE: Well, I think that what Donald Trump has been saying since the election has been very much calming any nerves that might have been there. He’s clearly talking in a very different way and reinterpreting some of his policies.
STEFANOVIC: What would you have done without Joe Hockey over there to get the number for you, for Malcolm Turnbull?
PYNE: Joe is doing a great job.
STEFANOVIC: Isn’t he?
PYNE: He’s doing a fantastic job. But we are very lucky because Donald Trump rang Malcolm Turnbull as the second world leader that he spoke to. It just indicates where Australia is in their thinking.
STEFANOVIC: Malcolm didn’t have his number. Malcolm didn’t have his number.
PYNE: Why would Malcolm have his number? Malcolm got his number and we spoke to him so, you know, I am not sure what your point is, sorry.
ALBANESE: Well I think a big deal has been made over how this phone number was got. The fact is that the US and Australia are close allies and it’s a good thing that the respective leaders are talking.
STEFANOVIC: OK good stuff. Thank you guys. Have a great weekend. See you soon.