Friday, 19th of September 2014 Issue #2 September
No Borders Newsletter


Australia’s 457 visa programme changes

Issues of this month

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Australia’s 457 visa programme changes may be in the works

Proposals to reform Australian’s 457 visa programme are balanced and measured and are aimed at giving businesses access to the skilled workers they need to grow their businesses, according to Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.

Giving a speech to mark the one year anniversary of the current Australian government, he pledged to respond to the independent panel's proposals as soon as possible.

'I believe the panel’s recommendations keep faith with the necessary requirements for a robust integrity framework to support the 457 programme, while recognising and addressing the need to increase the skills capability of the domestic workforce,' said Morrison.

'The Review has recommended that the market rate framework continue to operate as a core component of the 457 programme. I support the continuation of the market rate framework, but will, in line with the recommendations of the review, look favourably on introducing a deregulation measure that brings the income bar for exemption from market rate assessment in line with the top marginal tax rate of $180,000,' he explained.

'I am also attracted to the proposals that support trusted legitimate sponsors and help them manage their compliance and reporting obligations more effectively, whilst making it more difficult for those with dishonest intent to make fraudulent application,' he pointed out.

'I agree that there is a need to simplify the process of sponsorship renewal, extend reporting time frames and bring forward legislation to make it unlawful for sponsors to be paid by visa applicants for a migration outcome, reinforced by a robust penalty and conviction framework,' he added.

Morrison also hinted that there could be change to the English language requirements which he described as ‘unnecessarily restrictive'. He said that they serve more as an industrial lock out rather than an honest attempt to ensure appropriate language skills which the government does believe is important.

'There are more practical ways to achieve what is needed here and moving to an averaging system would remove much unnecessary cost and complexity,' he added.

He pledged to look at ways in which Labour Agreement negotiation time can be improved to enable demand driven and responsive pathways for temporary migration, where standard 457 programme arrangements are not suitable.

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Spain signs work and holiday visa arrangement with Australia

Spain is the latest country to sign a reciprocal work and holiday visa arrangement with Australia aimed at young people from both countries.

The work and holiday visa programme aims to provide a unique opportunity for young people to experience the vibrancy of each other’s culture.

'The arrangement signed at Parliament House means young people from Australia and Spain will have the opportunity to experience short term work and study arrangements in each other's country,' said Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Michaelia Cash.

She explained that the agreement will facilitate cultural exchange between the two countries, both in terms of the once-in-a-lifetime experience for the individuals involved, and in terms of the insights they will bring back to their home countries.

The reciprocal work and holiday visa arrangement also fosters top people links between the two countries, bolstering an already close and positive relationship.

The agreement will enable up to 500 young adults from Spain and 500 young adults from Australia to enjoy a holiday in each other’s country, during which they may engage in short term work and study.

'This agreement is a testament to the constructive relationship between Spain and Australia, to the benefit of young adults seeking a unique cultural experience,’ Cash pointed out.

The work and holiday visa differs from a working holiday visa as it requires applicants to have the support of their government, hold or be studying towards tertiary qualifications, and to speak functional English.

working holiday visa
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Visa fees to be examined in wider border protection review

Each year, border agencies collect around $3 billion in revenue from border related fees and charges. This is in addition to the billions that are collected by border agencies in excises and other taxes.

'Outside the Australian Taxation Office, the Immigration and Border Protection portfolio is the biggest 'tax collector' in the country. At the same time it costs more than $6 billion a year to protect and administer our borders. It is a core function of government,' Scott Morrison, the immigration minister.

Morrison said the review will focus on identifying where the government's border charges can be consolidated and improved to better support Australia’s future border operations. It will look at various charges including visa application fees.

'The Fees Review will strive to find the right balance between supporting Australia's international competitiveness, relieving the administrative burden on industry and ensuring the costs of maintaining the integrity of our border are appropriately shared with those who use it,' Morrison explained.

But large increases in visa fees are unlikely. Morrison pointed out that under the previous government sponsored skilled visa and working holiday visa charges more than doubled. Partner visas also doubled, and the cost of skilled graduate visas increased by over 500%.

The review will include industry consultation with opportunities for interested parties to make their views known to the Australian Government.

The industry consultation process will commence with a request for written submissions, followed by targeted engagement with various industry groups over the coming months.

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Special ceremony held to mark 65th anniversary of Australian citizenship

65th anniversary of Australian citizenship

A special citizenship ceremony was staged on Wednesday in Australia in the same venue where the first ceremony was held in 1949 as part of the nationwide celebrations, it has been announced.

The ceremony at Canberra’s Albert Hall, presided over by the Governor General, is part of events across the country to celebrate the 65th anniversary of Australian citizenship, which will see some 5,000 people become Australia's newest citizens.

Immigration and Citizenship Minister Scott Morrison said Australian Citizenship Day was an important opportunity for all Australian citizens to celebrate their citizenship.

'Since the introduction of the Australian Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 just over 65 years ago, we have welcomed more than four and half million new citizens from some 200 countries and this year, 5,027 more will officially join the Australian family,' he pointed out.

Australia's newest citizens are from 123 different nations including India, the United Kingdom, the Philippines, South Africa and China. They will have their citizenship conferred at 93 different ceremonies around Australia. During citizenship celebrations across the month of September, some 13,500 people will become citizens.

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Office Romance and the Tight Rope of Sexual Harassment

office romance and sexual harassment

As the lawyers for employers, especially Franchisors and Franchisees navigating the area of office romances is still a difficult area to traverse. Traversing the tight rope of sexual harassment involves a pro-active approach by Employers.

NB Lawyers was recently involved in a case where a manager made sexually explicit remarks to a subordinate. Even when the Employee made it very clear to the manager that this was unwelcome conduct he continued to make the remarks which were of a sexual nature.

When confronted with the allegations the manager attempted to pass all his comments off as a "joke".

Putting aside the obvious work related power imbalance between the manager and Employee whether or not the comments were continual over one night and was clearly unwelcome by the Employee. The Employee made a complaint to the Employer.

There were potential sexual harassment and workplace bullying claims and even a Workcover damages claim that could be made by the Employee, putting the Employer at risk of legal liability.

NB Lawyers suggest taking a few steps to reduce liability:

  • Prepare a Sexual Harassment and Workplace Bullying policy;
  • Provide Employees with training on Sexual Harassment and Workplace Bullying;
  • Thoroughly investigate any claims of sexual harassment; and
  • Ensure Employees are aware of appropriate conduct in the workplace.

For a limited time, NB Lawyers are offering a FREE 20 minute legal consultation to all Employers.

Written by

Jonathan Mamaril
Special Counsel, NB Lawyers
07 3876 5111

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