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Safety concerns over 457 visa deal to axe skills test

The Federal Government is facing criticism over its plan to axe mandatory skills assessments for Chinese migrants seeking to work in Australia on a temporary work (skilled) visa (subclass 457).

The opposition called on Minister for Trade Andrew Robb to answer questions about a deal he negotiated with the Chinese Government, in connection with the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), to abolish skills assessment requirements under Australia’s migration system for ten occupations, including electricians, carpenters and mechanics, with plans to do the same for other occupations within the next five years.

In particular, Shadow Minister for Trade Penny Wong wanted Minister Robb to reveal whether he had sought advice from Australia’s WHS and trades skills regulator and whether safeguards have been put in place to maintain safety standards in Australian workplaces

Meanwhile, Electrical Trades Union National Secretary Allen Hicks described the deal, which he said was reached without industry or community consultation, as “a dangerous policy that will lead to electrocution deaths, house fires, and other safety issues”.

“To allow electricians from a country with an appalling record on industrial safety – where more than 70,000 people a year die in workplace accidents – to practice without first assessing their skills or competency is negligent in the extreme,” Hicks said.

“If we stop assessing the skills of overseas workers and just starting handing licenses around, it’s not a matter of if, but when, somebody is killed.”

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