Migration and Other Legislation Amendment (Enhanced Integrity) Bill 2017
Mr HAWKE (Mitchell—Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection) (09:40): I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
The Migration and Other Legislation Amendment (Enhanced Integrity) Bill 2017 amends the Migration Act 1958, the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936, and the Taxation Administration Act 1953 to implement measures to support the integrity of the temporary and permanent employer sponsored skilled visa programs.
The measures in this bill will:
allow the public disclosure of sponsor sanctions;
allow the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to collect, record, store and use the tax file numbers of certain visa holders for compliance and research purposes;
provide certainty around when merits review is available for visas that require an approved nomination; and
allow the department to enter into an enforceable undertaking with a sponsor who has breached their sponsor obligations.
These measures complement and are part of the significant reform package to abolish the subclass 457 visa and replace it with a new temporary skill shortage visa. The measures in this bill will apply to temporary and permanent sponsored skilled work visas, which include the 457 visa and its replacement, the temporary skill shortage visa.
These measures strengthen the integrity of these visa programs, and protect Australian and overseas workers.
Tax file number sharing and the disclosure of sponsor sanctions will also give effect to recommendations made in Robust new foundations: an independent review into integrity in the subclass 457 program.
I now turn to examine the bill in more detail.
The bill proposes to amend the Migration Act to allow the public disclosure of information concerning businesses that are sanctioned for breaching their sponsor obligations. This information will be published on the department's website. Information released will include the sponsor obligation that was breached, the sanction that was imposed, and details of the business.
Sponsor obligations are in place to protect the wages and conditions of Australian and overseas workers, and to ensure skilled work programs are used only when an Australian is not available.
Currently, the department is only able to publicly release limited information regarding breaches. Whilst the department's annual report includes aggregate data on sponsor sanctions, it does not contain details of the companies that breached their obligations, or the penalty that was issued.
This information is not enough to inform the public about businesses that do the wrong thing.
The publication of detailed sanction information will deter businesses from breaching their obligations. It will allow Australians and overseas workers to inform themselves about breaches, and it will increase public confidence in the integrity of our visa programs.
The bill also proposes to amend the Migration Act to provide certainty around when merits review is available for visas that require an approved nomination.
This measure will clarify the situations in which review rights are available. It will clarify that review rights are determined at the time a decision to refuse a visa is made.
The bill also proposes to amend the Migration Act, the Income Tax Assessment Act and the Taxation Administration Act to allow the department to collect, record, store and use the tax file numbers associated with temporary and permanent skilled visas for compliance and research purposes.
It is proposed that the Migration Regulations will provide for tax file number sharing associated with temporary and permanent skilled visas, including the subclass 457 visa.
Tax file numbers will improve the department's ability to verify that businesses who sponsor overseas workers are complying with their sponsorship obligations, and that skilled visa holders comply with their visa conditions.
The department will use tax file numbers to match and access data, including salary data, held by the Australian Taxation Office. Whilst the department already conducts data sharing with the Australian Taxation Office, it does not have the authority to collect or store tax file numbers for this purpose.
This data will assist the department to undertake more streamlined, targeted and effective compliance activity to identify employers who breach their obligations, including by underpaying visa holders, and visa holders working for more than one employer in breach of their visa conditions.
Tax file numbers will also improve the department's ability to undertake research and trend analysis. This will provide an additional evidence base for the department in developing skilled visa policy.
In order to achieve these goals, it is also proposed that the department would be able to store tax file numbers if they are provided during the visa application process.
Finally, the bill proposes to amend the Migration Act so the department can enter into enforceable undertakings with sponsors who have breached their obligations. This provides the department and sponsors with an additional remedy to address breaches.
In conclusion, the measures in this bill will protect Australian and overseas workers by strengthening the integrity of Australia's temporary and permanent sponsored skilled work visas. I commend the bill to the House.