CFMEU Politicising Visa Deaths: Andrews

CFMEU politicising visa deaths: Andrews

The Age (Melbourne)
June 25, 2007 – 3:19PM

Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews has accused a major union of using the deaths of three foreign visa workers for political advantage.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) claims the deaths, in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory, show the government's controversial 457 visa scheme is out of control.

The union called on the government to release details of all incidents of serious injury or workplace deaths of section 457 visa holders since changes were made to visa rules in 2002.

A spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews said the union's claims were totally false.

“The major users of 457 visas are state and territory governments. Particularly, the largest user is the NSW Health Department,” the spokeswoman told AAP.

“It is a skilled visa – the unions have tried to suggest that it is a non-skilled visa – with very high salaries involved.

“Recently, we've introduced new legislation to increase the civil penalties for employers breaching the rules.

“But it would seem that, before any outcome is found, the CFMEU is trying to politicise these deaths, unfortunately.”

She said state occupational health and safety laws applied in each of the cases.

“In addition, the minister has asked for an internal inquiry to ensure that the sponsors met all the requirements and to ensure that the correct procedures were followed,” the spokeswoman said.

“Obviously, all Australian workplace laws apply to employees who may be here on a working visa.

“Without pre-empting any findings, we'll wait to see what the outcome of the inquiries is.”