Labor pledges ‘SMART’ tech visa

Describes government’s scrapping of 457 visas as a “con job”

Labor leader Bill Shorten has pledged that if his party forms government it will establish a new ‘SMART’ — Science, Medicine, Academia, Research and Technology — visa category.

Labor today criticised the federal government’s plan to scrap 457 visas, which have been widely used in the tech sector, and replace them with a new class of temporary visa.

A statement issued by the opposition leader, shadow employment minister Brendan O’Connor and shadow immigration minister Shayne Neumann described the government’s changes to the 457 visa as a “con job”. The new short and medium stay visas are effectively just a rebadging of 457 visas, the trio argued.

Labor said it would establish a new labour market testing agency: The Australian Skills Authority. The ASA would determine “genuine skills needs and restrict temporary work visas to those areas”.

The government’s changes to the visa system would only require market testing in some cases.

The ASA would also develop plans to whittle down the list of occupations that qualify for temporary skills visas.

Other changes proposed by Labor include higher visa fees and higher penalties for employers who exploit workers on temporary skill visas.

Labor said the SMART visa would “make sure that it is still possible to access the talent we need in certain industries.”

“Labor will introduce a new four-year visa, with appropriate salary safeguards, for

world-leaders in Science, Medicine, Academia, Research and Technology,” the outline of the new policy states.

“The new SMART visa will allow universities, research institutes, medical, scientific and advanced technology industries and companies and public research agencies to bring the best and brightest here.”

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