Regional talent drain

2 October 2023

Things are about to get worse in regional Victoria.

New industrial relations changes proposed by the Albanese Government could make employing – and keeping – overseas labour so much harder, and rural and regional Victorians will pay the price.

Sweeping ill-considered migration law changes could pave the way for Australia’s 2.1 million temporary visa holders to more easily shift jobs – and job locations – and it’s easy to see the outcome.

One proposal is that the government moves away from single-employer sponsorship to a more ‘flexible’ situation which allows for mobility between ‘approved employers’.

It all sounds very nice, but imagine this: A visa holder arrives from overseas and begins employment with their sponsor in regional Victoria – who, by the way, has spent a lot of time and money making this happen – and two months later they leave town to work elsewhere.

That’s likely to involve a move from regional Victoria to Melbourne.

That’s a bad idea.

What the government hasn’t revealed is how the first employer recovers their costs from the second employer.

From where and how does the initial employer recoup their money?

To be fair to temporary work visa holders, we don’t want them involved in a dispute between two employers based on who fronted up the ‘dough’ first.

That’s a terrible presentation of how Australia deals with its labour force.

The Federal Government’s proposed ‘mobility’ changes will slow the stream of auto technicians into regional areas, and we already have a skills gap of around 38,000 positions nationwide.

In the end, it will simply mean this: regional Victorians will pay more for automotive services.

Words by VACC CEO Geoff Gwilym. As featured in the Herald Sun 29 September 2023.

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