As an Australian nationalist, I make no apologies for being strong on jobs for Australians first, and that definitely includes apprenticeships. Labor and the coalition on the other hand have quite literally opened the floodgates to foreign workers on visa schemes that have sold out the unemployed and the under-unemployed right across this country.
Labor sold out workers in this country by establishing a little-known category called the 400 visa. It was a category that had very little oversight and that gave approval to foreign workers, in as little as 24 hours, to come and take Australian jobs. Hundreds of thousands of workers were employed under the 400 visa category, costing long-term unemployed Australians and university graduates finishing their studies a chance of employment.
We had the 457 visa program, where, again under Labor, the floodgates were opened to foreigners to come and take hundreds of thousands of Australian jobs. When Labor lost government in 2013, they were letting 130,000 foreign workers into Australia to take jobs like ship's engineers, ship's officers, radio journalists, magistrates, park rangers, zookeepers, and flight attendants. They are just some of the jobs Labor allowed to go to foreigners.
Thankfully, the number of foreign workers on the 457 visa program dropped by 60,000 last year. One Nation was largely responsible for cuts to over 200 of those job categories, some of which I mentioned before.
I also note that ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said in July this year that there are 1.4 million visa holders with working rights in Australia. That's disgusting. I have no doubt that these people are hard workers, but the point of my disgust comes down to Australians wanting a job. They have to compete with over one million overseas workers. Both Labor and the coalition have hoodwinked voters in this country. They talk tough on jobs, but
they are quietly undermining the unemployed and the future youth, who will one day join the search for a job in Australia.
I want to bring to the Senate's attention another real problem that both Labor and the coalition have failed to recognise. The Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations, Kelly O'Dwyer, last year admitted in a Financial Review interview that 400,000 ABNs were issued to people on visas who are not allowed to work in this country.
Australians find that to be so typical of government departments—they don't talk to each other.
So, on top of the 1.4 million work visas issued to foreigners, we have a further 400,000 taking jobs from Aussies under the
guise of small-business ownership.
I note this matter of public importance also highlights the need to protect local manufacturers and Australian grade steel. It's a bit bloody tough to protect Australian grade steel when the Greens, supported by Labor, are constantly trying to shut down mining in this country. You see, Australian-grade steel requires Australian coal, particularly the high-quality coal from my home state of Queensland, along with the high-grade iron ore from my One Nation
colleague's home state of Western Australia. When I stayed in camp with 800 miners in Moranbah only a few weeks ago, I learned that the majority of Central Queensland coal mines are producing coking coal, which is one of two key ingredients for Australian-grade steel. Australian coking coal is mixed with Western Australian
iron ore to form the best steel in the world.
That's why we're exporting these two commodities to countries like
China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. They want their bridges and buildings to stand the test of time. But, if the Greens and Labor team up again at the next election with their mutual preference deals, we'll be thrust back to building straw-and-mud homes. The key to using Australian-grade steel and protecting local manufacturers is to stop demonising coal and other mining throughout this country.
As for Senator Cameron's approach to my policy on getting apprenticeships in this country, I've done more for the youth of this nation in apprenticeship schemes than Labor have ever done. If it means that rural and regional areas get the chance for their youth to get into apprenticeship schemes then so be it.