THE number of foreign workers applying for skilled work visas is falling - but their use is still provoking fiery exchanges with one union already launching a campaign against them.
In the latest Department of Immigration statistics, the number of 457 visas rose 10.4% in the 12 months to November 2012 compared to the year before.
But from June, the rate of applications started to fall.
At the same time, the number of visas issued rose 10%, creating a total of 103,430 workers in Australia on 457 visas.
Despite the hint of a decline in visas, the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union has launched its "Let's Spread It Around" campaign aimed at "making the mining boom deliver jobs for Australian workers" as the country prepares for the Federal election.
One of its key platforms has a focus on those struggling to find employment as workers are brought in from abroad.
"While youth unemployment remains a major issue in communities across the country, big mining companies are continuing to bring in temporary foreign workers to build and operate mines rather than training local staff which defies common sense, " National secretary Michael O'Connor said.
The average 457 visa worker earned $89,800, according to the Department of Immigration.
A national body representing the mining industry swiftly returned fire at the union, saying local workers filled 92% of mining jobs in the past year.
The Australian Metals and Mines Association said the use of skilled migration was "very small but very important" to industry.
In Queensland, the number of visas granted overall went up more than 15% for a total of 5290 with jobs in mining, health care and construction demanding the most workers.
Of those, 20.8% - or 1100 - came from the UK, following closely by 16% - or 840 - who came from India.
When compared to the year before, demand for mine workers on visas fell 15% while both health care and construction industries needed some help from international hands.
In New South Wales, mining made up a paltry amount of the 10,760 given visas across the state.
Demand was instead dominated by need for workers in IT, health care and scientific fields.
For country of origin, the positions reversed with 24.3% or 2620 workers coming from India and 21.4% or 2310 coming from the UK.
Total number of 457 visas (temporary skilled workers) in
- Nov 2011: 83,140
- Nov 2012: 103,430 (24.4%)
- Nov 2011: 4590 visas granted.
- Nov 2012: 5290 (+15.3%)
Top five countries:
- Nov 2011: 9790 visas granted
- Nov 2012: 10,760 (10%)
Top five countries:
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