22 March 2012

Minister and WA politician trade insults over Australian visa claims

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen criticised WA's training minister Peter Collier for 'making undeliverable promises beyond his jurisdiction' after Mr Collier tried to attract 150,000 Irish workers to the region with a new Australian visa programme.

Australia visa

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says WA politician Peter Collier does not have the authority to negotiate on an international stage.

Mr Bowen's attacks comes after Mr Collier visited Ireland in 2011 and discussed a new Australian visa programme with the Irish training and skills minister which would bypass some Commonwealth visa restrictions.

However, when the Irish minister ruled out the discussions due to WA not being subject to international law, Mr Bowen claimed Mr Collier was not qualified, and should not, negotiate at that level.

"Mr Collier seems unable to grasp the basic principles of skilled migration," said Mr Bowen.

"Mr Collier was out of his depth on discussions with the Irish Government, making undeliverable promises that were beyond his jurisdiction."

Mr Collier defended his right to talk with the Irish Government and claimed he would not need to if proper improvements to the working holiday visa programme were made.

"I'm well within my rights to go out there and talk with other nations in terms of skilled workers," he said.

"We would not have had to be over there had there been much more identifiable and flexible processes in place."

Mr Bowen maintains that WA already benefits more than most from the Australian working holiday visa Mr Collier looked to expand.

"Under the State Migration Plan, WA holds over a quarter of all places in the programme and together with Victoria has the largest number of allocated places."

Industries which would benefit from expansions to the plan would appear to agree with Mr Collier however, Bradley Woods, chief executive of the Australian Hotels Association WA, said the Australian government should be doing more to allow the 'desperately needed' semi-skilled workers to come to WA.

"We know of thousands of Irish workers over 30 years of age, who would live and work here for up to two years but are denied this opportunity because a visa category does not exist."

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian High Commission.

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