‘Outrageous’ plan to put Aussie workers ‘at back of the queue’
Foreign workers should be brought in to take on jobs including carpenters, mechanics, engineers as well as cafe and restaurant managers, and even given reserved spots on flights to Australia and hotel quarantine, according to a Coalition-backed report.
It called more jobs to be added to a priority list for skilled worker visas, as well as loosening rules requiring businesses to look for Australians to do the jobs first.
The proposal comes less than four years after the Coalition Government cut the list and demanded tougher market testing, declaring at the time it would no longer allow foreign workers to fill "jobs that could and should go to Australians".
Labor has blasted the report, proposed by a Coalition-led parliamentary inquiry, as "outrageous, ill-conceived and appallingly timed" in the wake of the worst recession since the Great Depression.
But Government MP and inquiry leader Julian Leeser said times had changed drastically in the wake of the pandemic, with tens of thousands of skilled workers having left the country and created a skills gap.
"Without those skilled workers coming in, we can't grow the economy and create more jobs," he said.
"These are jobs Australia businesses are telling us they can't fill here."
He said the hospitality industry told the inquiry that 12,000 chefs and front-of-house managers, and 1500 veterinarian on temporary visas had left the country as a result of COVID.
The government-led skilled migration inquiry recommended chefs, veterinarians, cafe and restaurant managers and seafarers be urgently added to the priority migration skilled occupation list for work visas.
It said consideration be given to adding civil engineers, electrical engineers, mechanics, cooks, carpenters, electricians and other roles in the hospitality, health, trades, agriculture and manufacturing.
There was also a recommendation for the government to "reserve places on flights and in quarantine for skilled migrants".
Labor MP Julian Hill, who took part in the inquiry, said the Coalition MPs recommendations were "astounding" given JobKeeper was about to end.
"When millions of Australians are looking for work, the priority of government members of parliament is to put Australians at the back of the queue and make it easier for business to bring in foreign workers," he said.
Mr Hill said giving skilled workers reserved spots on flights and in hotel quarantine, would put the 40,000 Australians seeking to return home while international borders remain should "at the back of the queue".
The interim report will go to the government for consideration.
Originally published as 'Outrageous' plan to put Aussie workers 'at back of the queue'