Subject: 457 visas.
HOST: Anthony Albanese joins us now. Anthony, good morning to you. Your reaction to this announcement this morning?
ALBANESE: Good morning. We have been saying for some time that there have been abuses of the 457 visa system but whether the Government’s rhetoric matches its substance, which is what’s required, depends on two things. The first is, is there proper labour market testing involved? And that is unclear from the announcement yesterday, with the lack of detail. What we need to do is to test whether there are Australians available for any job before foreign workers are eligible to be employed in that position. The second is we need to reverse the cuts to education and training. We have lost hundreds of thousands of apprentices over the life of the current Government and we need to train Australians for skilled jobs – make sure that they can fill those positions.
HOST: That appears to be the point of the program, as per Peter Dutton’s statement on the program earlier saying that money will go in to training. So you must welcome the Government’s plan then?
ALBANESE: We want to see the dollars because what Australians know is that TAFE has been gutted by this Government and by Coalition state governments. We need to train people for those skilled jobs. They are high-value jobs and we want Australians filling those jobs.
HOST: You do have another segment coming up shortly so we don’t have a lot of time. Just quickly, can you give me some examples of the detail you have seen so far that you are opposed to?
ALBANESE: Well, we haven’t seen the detail, that’s the problem here. There weren’t even any fact sheets distributed. This was an announcement on Facebook. But we have been calling for labour market testing to be beefed up. The Coalition under Tony Abbott opposed labour market testing when the former Labor Government introduced it a few years ago. So we want to see a tightening of that and we want to see that money in the Budget for apprentices and for training.
HOST: All right, so as it stands the Opposition can’t name any detail that they disagree with or oppose to in the details released yesterday.
ALBANESE: Well we haven’t seen any detail. That’s the problem.
HOST: There was a fair amount of detail released yesterday. More to come with the Budget in May though.
ALBANESE: No, there is nothing there about labour market testing and how it will work and who will do the testing.
HOST: We will find out more I believe in the May Budget when that comes down in the coming weeks. Anthony, we are catching up with you on a very different note shortly, so see you in a moment. Thank you, speak to you in a sec.
ALBANESE: No worries.