Release type: Media Release


Media statement on portfolio change


The Hon Brendan O'Connor MP
Minister for Employment
Minister for Skills and Training

Yesterday I visited Government House to be sworn in by Her Excellency, Governor-General Quentin Bryce AC as the Minister for Employment and Minister for Skills and Training.

I am honoured to continue serving as a Minister in this Labor Government and I look forward to the challenges of my new portfolios.

I pay tribute to the Ministers I succeed in my portfolios and I look forward to building on their many achievements.

I am proud of our Government’s achievements during my time as Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, and I look forward to building on that work as Minister for Employment and Minister for Skills and Training.

This Labor Government protected jobs during the Global Financial Crisis and has created almost 1,000,000 jobs since our election in 2007.

Last week, new laws passed the Parliament that strengthen the 457 temporary visa system to ensure employers only use the scheme to fill genuine skill shortages, and look local first before hiring workers from overseas.

As Minister for Employment and Minister for Skills and Training I will ensure that when employers look local first, they will find Australian workers with the skills they need.

I will continue building a highly skilled workforce to help Australian businesses adapt, innovate and drive economic growth through increased productivity.

I also want to take this opportunity to reflect on our Government’s achievements when I was Minister for Immigration and Citizenship.

I was proud to advocate a policy whereby asylum seekers, including children and their families, could live in the Australian community while awaiting a determination of their protection claim.

Our Government implemented a 40 per cent increase in our humanitarian intake – to 20,000 places a year – for refugees the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has identified as priorities.

This was the biggest increase in 30 years and means Australia now takes more refugees from large camps around the world, including in Africa, Middle East and South-East Asia.

During my time as Minister, the Government also commenced a review of the refugee status determination process to ensure each of those 20,000 places only go to people genuinely fleeing persecution.

I congratulate Minister Tony Burke on his appointment to the Immigration, Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship portfolio and wish him all the very best.