The Australian government has indicated it will take decisive action to help with the rebuilding of flood damaged areas. It is set to establish a special Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) team to ensure the speedy turnaround for employer-sponsored temporary skilled migrants who join the rebuilding effort, a spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has promised quicker visa approvals. “Skilled labour will be as important as funding for rebuilding. There will be extra resources, assistance to employers and simpler processes to ensure a five-day turnaround for decision-ready applications for workers in a host of nominated occupations to work on rebuilding Queensland.”
The government also plans to hold information sessions in key flood-affected areas to explain the 457 visa process and provide personalised assistance to employers.
Business groups welcomed the move as critical to preventing a skills shortage and wage pressure as Queensland rebuilds roads and rail, and competes with the mining industry for labour.
Australian Industry Group chief executive Heather Ridout said the move would help businesses find labour. “However, in terms of support for addressing skill shortages and skills development more will clearly need to be done, and we will be looking to the federal budget for further action,” Ms Ridout said.