Australia reports increase in 457 visa applicants immigrating to Queensland

19 April 2012

Australia's Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has announced that 2,500 foreign workers immigrated to Queensland in the past year to fill vacancies in mining and construction.

The figures from DIAC reveal that in the 12 months to 21 February 2012, 34 percent of foreign workers on 457 visas in Queensland were working in these boom industries, which are currently experiencing significant labour shortages. There is high demand to for those experienced in resources industries to immigrate to Queensland. In 2011 Queensland Mining Expos attracted 50,000 expressions of interest over three months, according to Mining Industry Skills Centre CEO Derek Hunter.

And DIAC says the demand for talented foreign workers is only increasing, with UK workers being in greatest demand, followed by the US and India. Nearly 1,360 construction workers arrived in the past 12 months on 457 Temporary business visas, according to DIAC. That number is more than double the 670 construction workers that arrived the previous year. Also, foreign workers entering the mining industry increased from 560 to 1,180 in the same period.

However not everyone believes this is a positive thing for Australia or immigrant workers. Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union construction state secretary Michael Ravbarcor said the use of the Australian 457 visas was a way to "bring in foreign workers who (businesses) can exploit by paying lower wages".

"Their employer can threaten to cancel their visa and ship the 457 worker home if they bring up any concerns of safety or wage conditions," Ravbarcor claimed, adding that that the Housing Industry of Australia and Master Builders Queensland both believe the skills shortage was exaggerated.

DIAC's figures show that Queensland immigrant construction workers have been earning a total of $124,400 a year on average. Also, Mine workers on the Australian 457 visa earned a total of $131,900 a year on average.

Chamber of Commerce Industry Queensland advocacy general manager Nick Behrenscor claims that Queensland needs more workers because Australian skilled workers do now wish to move to regional areas.

"They don't want to go west, they want to stay on the eastern seaboard and aren't prepared to relocate to regional Queensland," he said. "The process is very stringent, you cannot source a 457 visa if there are people to fill the position."

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