Recommendations: effectiveness of current temporary skilled visa system

The 21 recommendations include the following: that TSMIT be increased to $62k; that a more stringent Labour Market Testing (LMT) be adopted; that future free trade agreements do not include an LMT waiver; that is be unlawful for some visa holders (including students) to hold an ABN; that unions be given standing to commence civil actions for breaches of the Fair Work Act and the Migration Act

The Legal and Constitution Affairs References Committee has tabled a report today on its inquiry into the Effectiveness of the current temporary skilled visa system in targeting genuine skills shortages.

The Committee has made the following 21 recommendations (highlighting in blue):

Recommendation 1

2.95 The committee recommends that the Australian Government continue to monitor the trajectory of visa applications and grants under the Temporary Skills Shortage (Subclass 482) visa over the next six months, with a view to making any necessary adjustments to the overall settings for this visa subclass in 2020.

Recommendation 2

2.100 The committee recommends that the Australian Government increase the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) to a minimum of at least $62,000, and mandate that the rate of the TSMIT be indexed annually in line with the average full-time wage.

Recommendation 3

2.105 The committee recommends that the Department of Home Affairs review and update its policies regarding health assessments of temporary visa holders, to ensure that visa applications will not be rejected on health grounds in cases where there is no possibility of health and social services costs accruing to the Commonwealth or state and territory governments.

Recommendation 4

3.83 The committee recommends that the Australian Government publish, in future updates to the skilled migration occupation lists, its reasons for including new occupations, moving occupations between the different lists, or removing occupations altogether that were included in previous iterations of the lists.

Recommendation 5

3.89 The committee recommends that the Australian Bureau of Statistics prioritise its review of the ANZSCO framework.

Recommendation 6

3.91 The committee recommends that the current skills assessment regime for the skilled visa system be strengthened by:

  • ensuring all testing is performed by an appropriate industry body and not by immigration officials;
  • guaranteeing that workers who currently require an occupational license must successfully complete a skills and technical assessment undertaken by a Registered Training Organisation approved by Trades Recognition Australia before being granted a visa;
  • introducing a risk based approach to assess and verify that workers are appropriately skilled for occupations that do not require an occupational licence; and
  • introducing a minimum sampling rate of visas issued in order to verify that migrant workers are actually performing the work the employer has sponsored them to perform.

Recommendation 7

3.96 The committee recommends that the Australian Government consider the establishment of a new independent tripartite authority to provide advice and recommendations to government on skilled migration issues.

Recommendation 8

4.85 The committee recommends that the Australian Government introduce more stringent evidentiary requirements for labour market testing to ensure that the intent of labour market testing arrangements is achieved and Australian employment opportunities are protected.

Recommendation 9

4.88 The committee recommends that the Australian Government resolve not to enter into any future free trade agreements that would involve labour market testing waivers.

Recommendation 10

4.92 The committee recommends that the Australian Government undertake a review of the use and effectiveness of labour agreements under Australia’s skilled migration program, and implement any necessary changes to ensure that:

  • labour agreements are only entered into where there is publicly demonstrated evidence of a genuine skills shortage that cannot be addressed by the Australian workforce;
  • all relevant stakeholders are genuinely consulted during the process of finalising labour agreements and provided with appropriate feedback in relation to concerns raised; and
  • the Department of Home Affairs’ reasons for entering into a labour agreement (or a renewal of any labour agreement) are made publicly available.

Recommendation 11

5.62 The committee recommends that the Australian Government guarantee adequate, additional funding if the income from Skilling Australians Fund levies does not meet the needs of industry and the vocational education sector to provide high-quality training to apprentices and trainees.

Recommendation 12

5.72 The committee recommends that the Australian Government commit to increasing overall funding levels for TAFE and vocational education and support a comprehensive and thorough commission of inquiry into Australia’s post-secondary education system.

Recommendation 13

5.74 The committee recommends that the Australian Government consider ways in which to encourage better information sharing between industry, vocational education and training providers, and potential students in order to encourage student uptake and local employment in industries experiencing skills shortages.

Recommendation 14

5.79 The committee recommends that the Department of Education and Training be required to present a report to Parliament bi-annually on the progress of the National Partnership Agreement on the Skilling Australians Fund and the extent to which it is achieving the outcome of addressing skills shortages in the Australian labour market.

Recommendation 15

5.81 The committee recommends that the Australian Government work with the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research to investigate and establish a research instrument to enable analysis of employer investment in the development and training of their workforces.

Recommendation 16

6.68 The committee recommends that the Australian Government implement all recommendations from the Report of the Migrant Workers’ Taskforce as soon as practicable.

Recommendation 17

6.69 The committee recommends that the Australian Government increase funding for Taskforce Cadena—or a similar taskforce—to ensure that the Taskforce is adequately resourced.

Recommendation 18

6.70 The committee recommends that the Australian Government require that employers pay wages for temporary visa holders into an Australian bank account.

Recommendation 19

6.71 The committee recommends that the Australian Government propose amendments to the relevant law to make it unlawful for temporary visa workers, including persons on student visas and working holiday visas, to apply for or to hold, an Australian Business Number (ABN).

Recommendation 20

6.72 The committee recommends that the Australian Government consider amending the Fair Work Act 2009 and the Migration Act 1958 to grant unions standing, where appropriate, to commence civil actions for breaches of those Acts in relation to visa work conditions.

Recommendation 21

6.73 The committee recommends that the Australian Government ensure that unions have standing to complain to the Fair Work Ombudsman or the Department of Home Affairs about concerns relating to the exploitation of temporary visa workers, even if that worker is not a union member.


Disclaimer: the above is a mere extract of a report. The views there expressed might not reflect the views of the Department, the AAT or the courts. The law or policies might have changed between the writing and reading of this article. The author of this article and Migration Law Updates disclaim any liability for any action (or omission) on their part based on any information provided (or not provided) in this article and are under no obligation to keep the general public nor practitioners informed about the matters discussed in this article or any other matters, or any future changes to any of those matters. It is the responsibility of each practitioner to obtain access to primary sources of law and policy by themselves and to carry out their own research and come to their own conclusions on legislation, case law, policies and more. This article is not intended for the general public.


Sergio Zanotti Stagliorio is a Registered Migration Agent (MARN 1461003). He is the owner of Target Migration in Sydney. He can be reached at sergio@targetmigration.com.au