Agribusiness & Food, Staffing, Recruitment & Training

Palmquist raises 457 questions

GrainCorp shed at the Port of Portland. Photo: David Sexton

The impact of recent changes to working visa restrictions will mean GrainCorp chief executive Mark Palmquist will have to re-apply under the new scheme next year, but he has told Fairfax he is more concerned over the wider impacts of the new scheme for his business.

Palmquist reportedly told the AFR he will need to apply for a two-year visa next year, under the new rules introduced last month by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, which replaced the existing 457 visa with a pair of alternatives, and also eliminated a number of occupations from the working visa list.

While the GrainCorp boss is confident he will be able to continue working in Australia under the new rules, he told the paper he was concerned over the implications of the changes to his business as a whole.

“I have a bigger issue,” he was quoted as saying, “which is what does this do to us as a global organisation? What does it do to our ability to attract the appropriate talent in terms of skillset and experience in terms of what we need to compete on the global marketplace?

“That’s the bigger issue for me. Australia has always been a country that has prospered from foreign capital and foreign experience and I would be concerned if there was any long-term impact based upon what the visa requirements are.”

Turnbull’s changes, announced in April, were met with a mixed reception from the bulk handling sectors.

The Australian Mines and Metals Association said the old 457 scheme was working as intended, but said the new rules should limit “political point-scoring” surrounding the working visa issue.

“The system was built to be responsive to changes in our economy and fluctuating labour demand, and has delivered on this objective,” AMMA reasoned. “The resource industry is one sector that has seen a dramatic change in labour demand and skills availability in recent years.

“If [the] announcement is at all effective at silencing the cheap politics and scaremongering that has taken place around temporary skilled migration in recent years, AMMA would welcome that outcome,” the Association said.

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