Concerns over foreign workers' exploitation on this lesser known visa
Visa holders from countries including India, China and Indonesia have been allegedly employed to fill job vacancies involving semi-skilled jobs.
Fair Work Ombudsman is investigating at least 11 cases of alleged exploitation of foreign workers on a relatively lesser known work visa (subclass 400), sparking concerns of unscrupulous employers exploiting the visa after the federal government announced it was abolishing 457 visa due to similar concerns.
Among the cases under investigations are of the Chinese workers who were paid as little as $1.90 an hour to wind up a vehicle manufacturing plant in South Australia and metal fabricators from the Philippines paid $4.90 an hour to work in NSW, Fairfax Media reports.
The news report also claims that in the 2015 cricket world cup, camera crews from Singapore were flown in on 400 visa, refusing the work to Australian camera crews.
According to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the visa is for short-term and non-ongoing work and can only be availed for highly specialised skills that cannot be found in Australia.
But experts say the visa which was introduced in 2013 is being used to fill semi-skilled positions. In 2016-17, 46,000 subclass 400 visas were granted.
In April this year, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in a crackdown on sponsored skilled visas, announced this government was going to abolish the controversial 457 visas to prioritise jobs for Australians.
Experts feel the 400 visa escaped scrutiny because of it being a lesser known subclass.
"For the 400 there is not much information at all. It's a sleeper visa category not much attention has been paid to it," Dr Chris Wright of the University of Sydney told The Sydney Morning Herald.
Migration agent Yatharth Bharadwaj says 400 visa is used predominantly by big businesses to sponsor foreign workers.
"Because smaller businesses attract tougher scrutiny from the department [DIPB], they rarely use it, but big companies, including multinationals, use it often," he says.
Labor MP Julian Hill accused the government of a “fake crack down” on visas when it abolished the 457.
He said temporary skilled visas should only be available when there's a genuine skills gap that Australian workers can't fill.
"It appears that some employers are still finding ways to bypass the new skills shortage lists and avoid labour market testing," Mr Hill said.
A spokesperson for the Immigration Minister said all the 400 visa applications are processed with careful consideration of all relevant information.
"The government is committed to ensuring that Australian workers have priority and that foreign workers are a supplement to, and not a substitute for, Australian workers," he said.