Balancing our need for workers and the provision of jobs for Australians is an ongoing challenge. From time to time, in various industries, there are insufficient Australians available to do the work required.
That is why Australia has long relied on temporary workers to fill gaps where we do not have sufficient workers, whether skilled or unskilled
But a system that can lead to permanent residency or fewer requirements to invest in training can be exploited. When I was Immigration Minister, I had to deal with the explosion of people coming to Australia to train as hairdressers. Despite the large numbers, we still had a shortage of hairdressers. Why? Because many of the trainees never intended to work in the industry, but used the visa as a means of getting to Australia.
Reforming the temporary visa program is only part of the solution. Much work in the cafe and horticultural sectors, for example, is undertaken by working holiday makers.
There are areas of Australia where there are shortages of workers in these industries, yet high unemployment amongst young people. Unless we also continue to reform our welfare system, we will face the same issues in the future.