AUSTRALIA’S resource industry employer group AMMA has welcomed Minister for Immigration Scott Morrison flagging the government’s support for removing cumbersome and unnecessary bureaucracy from Australia’s valuable skilled migration programs.

Speaking at the National Press Club last Wednesday (September 10), Minister Morrison voiced the government’s early support for some changes to the 457 Visa program recommended by its 457 Visa Integrity Review Panel.

The Panel’s report was publicly released on the same day and included a range of proposed changes in-line with AMMA’s recommendations to the review.

While the government is yet to issue its formal response, Minister Morrison voiced support for important changes such as new processes to speed up skilled migration Labour Agreements for Australian businesses.

AMMA chief executive Steve Knott said this change is urgently needed.

“We have seen major resource industry projects wait up to four years to secure a Labour Agreement to cover a small number of valuable and necessary international workers. The current negotiating process is extremely difficult and time-consuming,” Mr Knott said.

“This has a very real impact on job opportunities for Australians. Skilled overseas workers have never been used to replace Australian jobs, rather they complement the skills available here with new global expertise and support projects delivering great value to Australia’s economy.”

Other proposed changes supported by the Minister include more practical and effective standards for English language testing to fix an array of existing problems, and a reduction in market salary rate comparisons from $250,000 to $180,000 per annum.

“Clearly employers should not be burdened with onerous salary comparison requirements for high income earners being paid more than $180,000 per year,” Mr Knott said.

Despite a recommendation from the Review Panel, Minister Morrison indicated the government did not support the complete removal of Labour Market Testing measures.

With Edith Cowen University research showing it can cost employers up to $70,000 to sponsor a 457 Visa holder, AMMA has long argued such measures are completely unnecessary and cumbersome.

AMMA will keep its members updated of ongoing developments in the reform process to Australia’s 457 Visa program. For more information about the 457 Visa Integrity Review, click here.