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The Australian Motor Industry Federation (AMIF) says the 457 Visa debate should return to reality rather than distorting what is really happening in regional and rural communities across Australia.

AMIF says commentary by Government, politicians and others that the current 457 visa scheme is ‘riddled with rorts’; that there should be a cap on 457 Visa’s and Australians should be at the head of jobs cues are a gross distortion of the facts and an emotive response to a valuable source of expertise.

AMIF CEO, Richard Dudley said an environmental scan conducted by national automotive training body, Auto Skills Australia,reveals a current nationwide shortage of 19,000 skilled mechanics alone.

‘If we could find 19,000 skilled mechanics in the Australian-based workforce, we would employ them, but they simply do not exist.We have an environment where automotive businesses are closing each week with lack of staff a key reason,’ Mr Dudley said.

‘The Federal Government’s own Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) has reconfirmed the shortages we are experiencing with a decision to retain a status of shortage against many automotive professions appearing on the skilled migration list in only the last few weeks. DEEWRs says for all positions advertised nationwide on average only half are filled,’ Mr Dudley said.

AMIF says the Governments commentary that the Mining and Resources Industry are not high end 457 Visa users distorts the realissues and the real impacts, “ Mr Dudley said.

“While the mining industry may itself not utilise 457 Visas to a great extent, the facts are that this industry has already vacuumned local communities across the nation of people including mechanics, other motor trades professionals and other skilled workers and this combined with a diminishing labour pool mean 457 Visas are essential to maintain the expertise needed to provide services.

"In Emerald, Queensland, the local new hospital could not source nurses because they had been employed by the mining industry to drive trucks! In the same regional centre a local vehicle retailer is flying in mechanics from Brisbane on rotation and employing others under 457 Visas to replace the mechanics, body repairers and others who all went to the mining industry.'

Mr. Dudley said the Australian automotive Industry is a high end user of 457 visas and will continue to draw heavily on this employment strategy otherwise there is a real potential of Australia’s reliance on road transport grind to a halt in regional and rural areas.

“Rather than continue to generate some sort of employment class war and social concern, government should be working with all parts of industry together to better plan for a diminishing labour pool, impacts of globalisation and the needs of all Australians to access all the services they need.

For more information or for comment, please contact Mr Richard Dudley, Chief Executive Officer of AMIF on (02) 6273 8222 or 0412 146 828.