NSW government passes the buck over hiring of IT workers on 457 visas

(c) Anna Patty - The Sydney Morning Herald

In response to a freedom of information request, the NSW Department of Finance said it was unable to provide details of the market testing conducted before 32 IT workers were hired from overseas on 457 visas.

The government has been criticised for allowing jobs previously held by Australian citizens to be filled by overseas workers.

Federal Department of Immigration guidelines require that 457 visas only be granted to fill serious skills shortages to give Australians priority.

The Department of Finance said the employment of staff on 457 visas was the responsibility of IT companies Infosys and Unisys which have been contracted to provide the GovConnectNSW service centre in Parramatta.

NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge, who made a freedom of information request for information about market testing conducted to justify the employment of overseas workers, said taxpayer-funded IT jobs should not have been given to 457 visa holders after Australian IT workers had been made redundant. 

"The Coalition have now got to the point where they are even outsourcing their outsourcing," Mr Shoebridge said.

"Without any oversight by the state government they have allowed a low-wage multinational to decide for itself there were no skilled local workers to do government IT work.

"We know this is rubbish and that there are a bunch of locally-trained workers, it's just that this is a multinational that doesn't want to pay them a fair wage. Their entire business model is based on undercutting local wages and conditions."

Mr Shoebridge said Australian residents trained in IT skills who were looking for jobs had a right to feel betrayed. He said there is a commercial interest for multinational contractors to bring in low-wage workers from overseas under 457 visas.

"Of course Infosys is going to say there are no suitably qualified local workers because they make their profit by bringing in low wage workers in the first place," he said.

We know this is rubbish... Their entire business model is based on undercutting local wages and conditions.

Greens MP David Shoebridge

"This is why it is so outrageous that the Coalition government has washed its hands of doing the market testing itself.

"This is the solution they wanted because it is all about cost saving and for them the hundreds of unemployed locals are just expendable."

The state government last year confirmed people on 457 visas had filled 32 full-time jobs following its decision to outsource ServiceFirst which looks after IT, human resources and payroll services.

The former Minister for Finance, Services and Property Dominic Perrottet​ said that 32 workers would continue in their roles.

A state government spokesman confirmed it did not conduct any market testing on the use of 457 visas because this was not part of contract negotiations.

"The direct employment of staff by contract vendors is the responsibility of those suppliers," the spokesman said.

In its response to the freedom of information request the Department of Finance said: "The direct employment of staff by Infosys and Unisys is the responsibility of those suppliers which, in accordance with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection's requirements, would employ 457 visa holders working on GovConnect in order to meet critical skills shortages."

The Federal Department of Immigration and Border Protection requires there to be a serious labour market shortage before skilled workers are employed from overseas on 457 visas.

Victor Dominello, the Minister for Finance, Services and Property, said the government had contracted GovConnect to provide IT, HR, Payroll and Finance & Accounting support services.

"Under that contract, GovConnect must employ at least 70 per cent of its business-as-usual staff onshore," he said.

"In accordance with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection's requirements, any 457 visa holders working for GovConnect are employed to meet critical skills shortages."

Fairfax Media has contacted Infosys for comment. Unisys said it had not employed any workers on 457 visas.


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