By Pamela Medlen
Updated Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:41pm AEST
The state’s peak industry lobby and migration consultants have slammed massive fee increases, both federal and state, for 457 temporary working visas.
Before July, the visa cost $445 to bring a family of four to work in Australia.
After July, that rose to $2,230 and by September it will rise again to $2,590.
On top of that, the State Government announced in last week’s budget that a new $4,000 fee will be charged for each child to cover the cost of their education.
The WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s James Pearson says the visas employ essential workers in mining, construction, health and nursing across the state.
“Our members have been telling us that the government’s attack, because that’s what it’s been, on the 457 visa program has been costly and disturbing and made it harder for them to recruit people overseas,” he said.
“That just doesn’t make sense at a time when Australia needs talent wherever it can find it.”
The Migration Institute of Australia said it is extraordinary and unprecedented to have three fee rises for visa applications in any year.
“We can only presume that this will have an adverse affect on the number of people who can afford to apply to come to Australia,” the institute’s national president Angela Chan said.
“It makes it very difficult for small employers and small family businesses to start expanding their businesses if they’re going to rely on overseas recruitment.”
Ms Chan said raising the visa application fee was a very easy way of raising government revenue.
“I would defy the government and the opposition to come out and say they will reduce these fees,” she said.
“If they need to raise revenue or they want to restrict the numbers (of migrants) they’ve got to have a better strategic plan than this.”
Mr Pearson said the 457 program had allowed businesses to keep their shop doors open, keep construction sites working and provide essential health services across the country.
“The Government’s brought in massive fee increases and that is going to increase by thousands of dollars, especially if they’re bringing in their families,” he said.
Mr Pearson said workers on the visa often brought their families to help them settle in and work better.
He said many of the people who came in as temporary workers settle in Australia permanently.
“The government should think very carefully about making it harder for Australian employers, large and small, to bring in temporary workers from overseas when locals aren’t available to do the job,” he said.
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