What 20 Italians in a café could tell Gillard about 457 visas

Iconic Melbourne café Brunetti has just imported 20 foreign workers to help run its new 400 seat venue.

It’s a move that’s at odds with Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s crackdown on workers on skilled 457 visas.

Yuri Angele, co-owner of the 39-year-old store, said he hand-picked a team of specialist Italian staff.

He told Fairfax while he didn’t advertise positions in Australia, the business “received applications all the time”.

“But we’ve never been able to find a team that would be able to deliver the quality we wanted,” he said.

“What we do is very specific and very Italian. People come here expecting to be in Italy, so we have to fill that expectation.”

While Gillard has vowed to crack down on alleged rorting of 457 visas which allow businesses to sponsor skilled overseas workers, what Brunetti’s has done shouldn’t come within her sights.

The claim that the 457 visa system is being rorted is not backed up by any evidence, and is merely anecdotal.

What Angele has done may sound controversial at first but not when you consider that he has sponsored about 40 foreign workers through the business, out of a total 240 staff.

He uses the staff to deliver specialised product like specifically made pizzas and pastries using Italian recipes and expertise.

It’s not a cheap process, as before a position can be filled by a 457 visa holder, Angele would have had to prove the position cannot be filled by an Australian citizen and offer the same salary and benefits to the temporary resident as they would have to a citizen.

Angele obviously feels this investment is worth his while as the Italian feel of Brunetti’s – nestled in the heart of Melbourne’s ‘Little Italy’ in the Lygon Street precinct – is a key reason for its success.

Brunetti’s move just goes to show how businesses need the flexibility of 457 visas to grow as Brunetti has done, from one small shopfront to a chain of stores which has gone international.

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