Neos Kosmos took the opportunity to put forward some of the Greek Australian communities concerns to Shadow Immigration Minister Shayne Neumann and Member for Calwell Maria Vamvakinou MP during their visit to the head office of Pronia on Tuesday.
“It’s been deliberately slowed down by the government. They have deliberately done this and this affects the Greek community, it affects communities across the country,” Mr Neumann said.
“But visas generally; bridging visas, people’s applications for tourist visas, visa applications for skilled migration, we’re dealing with this issue.
“Under the current government, they have gotten rid of the 457 visas and created a new visa with different numerals called the 482 visa, which is exactly the same, but what they’ve done is they’ve provided no pathways to permanent residence if you’re on the short-term skill occupation list,” which he said Labor is looking to rectify.
“Labor’s going to make sure we have an Australian Skills Authority where we get the best demographic advice and the best opportunities for people to come to this country if there are skill shortages and to find pathways to permanent residence,” Mr Neumann told Neos Kosmos.
“And of course we’re going to massively increase our funding for TAFE, universities and education because … a skills shortage shouldn’t last one day longer than it takes to train up an Australian to do the job. So we want to make sure we prioritise jobs for Australian citizens and permanent residents. But if there are genuine shortfalls, let’s get people to fill those shortfalls and let’s get good wages and conditions and not abuse them.”
“These working holiday and work and holiday visas were meant to be cultural exchanges, they’re not meant to fill shortfalls; they’re meant for people, young people particularly, to experience different cultures and different ways of life, and to broaden their horizons and opportunities, and they’re important for international relations … they’re there to create important relationships between Australia and Greece, and other countries. So we don’t see them as necessarily an opportunity to fill jobs, to fill gaps … their part-time employment is also important to sustain themselves and perhaps have some benefits in retail, horticulture, hospitality on the way through in terms of the Australian economy,” said Mr Neumann – a response that didn’t exactly answer why the visa has yet to be implemented. He advised us to speak with the government.
“It’s a broad suite of issues that Bill would have been referring to in our attitude towards pensioners,” Ms Vamvakinou told Neos Kosmos.
“I think that the references go back to this government’s continued attempt to decrease the portability of the aged pension, which – we’ve discussed this widely in the community – affects them at an age where they want to go out and move overseas for a while and come back; we’ve been fighting for that for the last six years, it was one of the budget measures, and we withstood that and we will withstand it.”
“They [the government] wanted to raise the pension age to 70, make it harder for people to go overseas and visit their relatives – we’ve blocked that,” added Mr Neumann.
“They took about nearly 100,000 people off the pension, nearly 300,000 lost part of their pension, Labor opposed all that … This government has not been a government for pensioners, it has not been a government for the voice of aged pensioners in migrant communities … it’s a bit rich for them to actually now say they are ‘the best friend of aged pensioners’ when they’re not, and the evidence is quite clear.”