Foreign workers will be barred from employment at fast food restaurants in a somewhat surprising crackdown by the federal government.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has scrapped a deal allowing fast food outlets to employ staff on a 457 visa. This will be the first time an entire sector has been banned from sponsoring overseas workers.
Of McDonalds’ some 90,000 staff in Australia, they employ 285 foreign workers under the Fast Food Industry Labour Agreement – that’s 0.31% of their staff. Similarly Hungry Jack’s workforce of over 18,900 staff is made up of approximately 0.39% foreign workers, and KFC’s workforce consists of 0.29% foreigners in their 30,000 strong workforce.
These workers will be forced to leave the country as soon as their current agreement finishes, unless their employer submits an individual case as to why they should stay for assessment.
“Every Australian teenager should have the chance to get a job at the local shops,” Mr Dutton said.
“The Aussie kid shouldn’t be knocked out of the job by a foreign worker, which is what Bill Shorten did.”
The 457 visas are temporary visas designed to fill temporary skill shortages, with conditions that the visa holder is limited to working for the nominated occupation and sponsor.
457 visas have been considered helpful in attracting skilled workers to regional and rural towns in Australia. Advice was given to the former Labor government to restrict the labour agreement to such towns, but they did not.
Labor MP Tony Burke agrees the 457 visa legislation is outdated and told Sky News its existence was because of the mining boom at the time.
"People were able to get much higher paying jobs in the mining sector, so where you ended up with your vacancies that you couldn't get Australians to fill were your places like fast food," explained Mr Burke.
"If ... Australian workers were getting more highly-paid jobs in the resources sector, and overseas workers were getting the lower-paid jobs, that's hardly against the national interest," he continued.
"But we don't have that problem anymore, the mining boom is over."
The most common countries providing foreign workers on 457 visas are India, the United Kingdom, China, the Philippines and Ireland.
In exceptional circumstances, fast food outlets will still be allowed to make official requests for a foreign worker.