Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Michael Thornton
Thornton Immigration Lawyers

The Australian Labor Party under Kevin Rudd had a resounding victory over John Howard’s conservative coalition government on November 24. What will this mean for Australia’s immigration policy?

The new Minister for Immigration and Citizenship sworn in on December 3 is Senator Chris Evans from Western Australia. Senator Evans was first elected to the Parliament in 1993 having previously served as an Industrial officer with the Federated Miscellaneous Workers' Union from 1982 to 1987 and as State Secretary of the Fire Brigade Union (WA) from 1987 to 1990. Most recently, Senator Evans was Shadow Minister for National Development, Resources and Energy from 2006 to December 2007.

AS Senator Evans was not the Labor Party’s Shadow Immigration Minister prior to the election, we have little knowledge of his personal views on immigration policy. However the Labor Party ran a number of these issues as part of its election platform.

Based on this policy I would expect to see a number of significant changes in the Employer Nomination and Temporary Business visa areas including:

Labour Market Testing of positions nominated by Australian businesses for filling by overseas workers. This might mean a return to compulsory advertising of positions and the accompanying delay and expense.
Formal testing or accreditation of the skills of overseas sourced workers. Once again, this would significantly add to the cost and delay associated with the employment of overseas workers.
Insistence on formalised training programs for the Australian staff of sponsoring companies. Labor’s policy seems to strongly favour local sourcing of workers over the use of temporary overseas workers.
Pay and conditions of overseas workers being matched to local industry rates. At present the remuneration is prescribed to be at least A$41,850 per annum rather than being related to ‘going rates’ in the industry.

The Labor Party has officially expressed a preference for permanent skilled migration over temporary skilled workers. This could see an increase in Australia’s annual quotas for skilled migration.

Michael Thornton, Principal of Thornton Immigration, is an Australian qualified lawyer who practises exclusively in immigration law. He is a Fellow of the Migration Institute of Australia and is accredited by the Law Institute of Victoria as an Immigration Law Specialist. Please direct any questions about these changes to Michael at michaelt@thorntonimmigration.com.au.