22 March 2013

Kim Carr criticises 457 visa communication

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Senator Kim Carr has used his resignation speech to criticise the Australian government's level of rhetoric in the ongoing 457 visa row.

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Senator Kim Carr resigned his ministry following the unsuccessful attempt to remove Prime Minister Julia Gillard from office.

Senator Carr resigned his portfolio as minister for human services this week after the second unsuccessful attempt to oust Prime Minister Julia Gillard from her office. With the federal election looming large on the horizon, the governing Labor Party is widely expected to lose its majority.

Despite a failed attempt last year to reinstate Ms Gillard's predecessor Kevin Rudd, who himself was ousted by Ms Gillard in 2010, large sections of the Australian public as well as factions within the Labor Party are reported to still prefer Mr Rudd as leader.

Reports have been bubbling in recent weeks of a leadership spill and senior Labor Party politicians this week moved to begin the change. Ms Gillard herself called a leadership ballot but Mr Rudd refused to stand for the leadership, stating he supported the prime minister '100%' - although reports have since emerged that he did not challenge as he did not have the numbers.

In the wake of the second leadership ballot, several ministers known to support Mr Rudd have either been dropped by Ms Gillard, or resigned. Among them are former Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and Senator Carr, both of whom resigned their ministries.

In his resignation speech to the senate, Senator Carr said the tone of the ongoing 457 visa row was a major factor in both his and Mr Bowen's decision to resign.

The 457 visa scheme, which allows employers to bring in temporary foreign workers cannot be found, has been in the news in recent weeks after current Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor said the scheme would be tightened to prevent abuse.

The minister said there was significant evidence that employers were manipulating the system to undercut local workers and bring in low-paid unskilled foreign workers - an argument which was repeated by Ms Gillard.

The ensuing debate quickly focussed on claims of the government pandering to anti-immigration voters in Australia, a claim Mr O'Connor denied by stating the changes were originally the idea of his predecessor Mr Bowen, two years ago.

"Chris Bowen had examples with two employers in Adelaide who said 'we haven't tried to actually seek out locals'. He asked his department what do I do, and they said there was no power to act," Senator Carr said.

The senator said that while he supported the need for a tightening of the system, he was concerned about the way they had been portrayed:

"I was surprised to see the initiative supported by Pauline Hanson."


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