Bill Shorten attends a community forum in Rockhampton on August 15, 2016. Jobs, Visa workers, childcare and the NBN were at the forefront of the issues discussed on the night.
Bill Shorten attends a community forum in Rockhampton on August 15, 2016. Jobs, Visa workers, childcare and the NBN were at the forefront of the issues discussed on the night. Michelle Gately

Bill Shorten: Australia an immigrant nation, not 'full'

IN A nation built on immigration, even Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has a convict past.

Speaking at a community forum in Rockhampton last night, Mr Shorten said he had never "denigrated people for wanting to come to this country".

Several people asked questions about immigration and 457 working visas.

"I get frustrated by people who say 'we're full'," Mr Shorten  said.

"I don't agree that people being smuggled here on boats risking their lives, drowning at sea that we can turn a blind eye to the policies which may contribute to that.

"That's not an argument against immigration.

"Labor accepts we're an immigrant nation, but what we've also got to make sure is that when people come here we've got the infrastructure to match it, we've got the jobs here and we're also looking after locals.

"It's a matter of getting the balance right, but I think this country is smart enough to."

On the question of people on 457 working visas being prioritised over Australian citizens, Mr Shorten said employers looking to hire guest workers had to meet labour market testing requirements under the migration act.

"It's not enough to say I've got a shortage of labour, let me do this," he said.

Mr Shorten said it was "frustrating" to see skilled Australians "not getting a start", and guest workers exploited by businesses.


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