Overseas workers: NSW government contractor didn’t check whether Australians were available

The NSW government has confirmed that it did not check whether Australian employees were suitable to fill 32 computer software jobs, which its contractor filled using overseas workers.

The overseas workers on 457 visas were hired after the government’s ServiceFirst shed more than 200 employees who had provided computer support services.

After laying the 200 off, the government outsourced its computer support services for IT, HR, payroll, finance and accounting to global companies. The companies have taken all responsibility for checking overseas workers are genuinely required to fill a serious skills shortage.

These contractors are only required to keep 70 per cent of jobs onshore, allowing 30 per cent to be offshore.

In response to a freedom of information request, the NSW Department of Finance said it was unable to provide details of that market testing which led to 32 IT workers being hired from overseas on 457 visas.

Australian Immigration

Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton has tasked the Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration to review the skilled migration program to ensure it better reflects “genuine” labour market needs. The 457 visa program was designed to fill serious skills shortages to give Australians priority.

Research has shown that an increasing number of IT professionals from India being granted 457 visas and paid base salaries of $53,900 or less, much lower than experienced Australian IT professionals.

The state government has been criticised for allowing jobs previously held by Australian citizens to be filled by overseas workers who are paid less.

The NSW Department of Finance said the employment of staff on 457 visas was the responsibility of IT companies Infosys and Unisys. They had been contracted to provide staff to the renamed ServiceFirst – now called GovConnectNSW service centre – in Parramatta.

NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge asked the Department of Finance for the labour market testing but it was unable to provide it saying this was the responsibility of the contractors.

“The Coalition have now got to the point where they are even outsourcing their outsourcing,” Mr Shoebridge said.

“Without any oversight by the state government they have allowed a low-wage multinational to decide for itself there were no skilled local workers to do government IT work. Read More: smh

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