Australian minister defends new trade-skills training visa

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Australian Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone this week defended a new trade-skills training visa. The visa category will allow employers in regional areas to award apprenticeships to trainees from overseas.

The opposition Labor party is calling for the visa category to be scrapped, saying it lacks a requirement for employers to advertise the positions first.

But Senator Vanstone says the visas will have to be approved by local certifying bodies.

Opponents also say the Government and employers are not trying hard enough to make sure that local people fill apprenticeship and job vacancies first.

Employment Minister Kevin Andrews has accused the opposition of xenophobia over its opposition to the visa.

He has told Parliament the visa will not take apprenticeships from Australian workers because they are only available in regional areas suffering skill shortages.

"What we hear from the Leader of the Opposition is simply xenophobic dog whistling to his mates in the union movement, the same union movement that gave us the white Australia policy," he said.