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13 November 2008
A federal government-sponsored review has called for a major overhaul of the controversial 457 visa scheme in Australia. A significant recommendation is that businesses should pay temporary skilled migrants the appropriate market rates and offer them the same terms and conditions of employment as their other employees.
Industrial relations expert, Barbara Deegan had been appointed by the government to look into the scheme amid claims that foreign workers were being exploited. Ms Deegan said she had been made aware of numerous examples of exploitation of 457 visa workers. Non-payment of overtime, longer hours of work and limited access to sick leave were widespread practices.
She recommended that the 457 minimum salary level should be abolished in favour of market rates of pay for all temporary visa holders on salaries of less than $100,000. She also recommended an accreditation system be developed to ensure rapid processing of low-risk visa applications so employers can secure necessary workers more quickly.
No firm decisions have yet been taken by the government, but Immigration Minister Chris Evans confirmed that it was "...closely assessing the report and decisions to implement individual recommendations will be taken as part of the (2009) budget process".