Migration, Fair Work Act changes in Summit spotlight

A significant increase in Australia’s migration cap, changes to the Fair Work Act and a boost to TAFE training places are among the key commitments to come from the Federal Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit.

The Summit, held at Parliament House in Canberra on September 1-2, has involved many issues of importance being raised, with statements by unions, community organisations and business groups.

WATCH: CCIWA Chief Economist Aaron Morey talks to media about the Summit

Though details remain to be specified, notable commitments include:

  • Australia’s permanent migration intake in 2022-23 will be boosted by 35,000 to 195,000 a year, with $36.1 million in increased departmental funding to clear visa backlogs. The Government acknowledged the migration system is broken and has committed to reviewing it, with a focus on making “big improvements fast”.
  • The minimum wage payable to temporary skilled workers will be lifted from $53,900 to a yet-to-be-decided figure, and an extension to temporary skilled visa holders will be pushed out to June 2023.
  • The skilled occupation list will be overhauled to better match the nation’s needs.
  • Age and Veterans Pensioners will be able to earn an additional $4000 over this financial year without losing any of their pension.
  • “Action” will be taken on the Fair Work Act “better off overall” rule, which will be made “simpler and fairer.” This requirement on proposed EBAs, including in contrived and hypothetical scenarios, has always been a barrier to the success of enterprise bargains, even when widely supported. The specifics of this proposal will be released next week.
  • The Government will proceed to legislate “multi-employer” bargaining and declined to rule out industry-wide bargaining. Particularly for small businesses, this risks exposing businesses to new fronts of industrial dispute and delays where they were previously not present.
  • The Fair Work Commission will receive greater powers to intervene in bargaining that has “gone on too long” or where one party is acting “unfairly.”
  • “Increased access” to flexible working arrangements and unpaid parental leave, and added protections for workers against “adverse action, discrimination and harassment”.
  • After the Government began the process to abolish the anti-corruption watchdog, the Australian Building and Construction Commission, a new ‘construction industry forum’ will be established to focus on mental health, safety, culture, gender and diversity, and training.
  • A commitment of $1.1 billion to increase TAFE training places by 180,000 in 2023.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the Government had agreed to 36 immediate initiatives.

READ MORE: CCIWA calls for reforms to solve jobs, skills dilemma

WA MIGRATION CHANGES: State’s migration program gets shake-up

CCIWA Chief Economist Aaron Morey welcomed the migration announcement, saying CCIWA had been calling for an increase in migration settings and had directly engaged with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and Federal Government ahead of the Summit.

“We’ve led the debate on this. The biggest pain point for WA businesses is access to workers and it’s pleasing that the Government has addressed the migration cap,” he said.

Morey also welcomed changes to the Fair Work Act “better off overall” rule, which he described as unworkable in its current form.

ACCI CEO Andrew McKellar said: “With labour and skill shortages at their most severe levels in 48 years, raising the migration intake and addressing protracted visa processing times will be essential in addressing unmet labour demand.”

“As the global race to attract skilled migrants heats up, we cannot risk getting left behind, he said.

“Government must make it easier to access the best in global talent and expertise. For business, this means access to a simple, affordable, and responsive migration system.”

For general employee advice and guidance, contact CCIWA’s Employee Relations Advice Centre on (08) 9365 7660 or email [email protected].

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