In late 2017 Peter Dutton introduced a small, seemingly trivial change to the bureaucracy governing companies seeking to sponsor foreign workers, on what were formerly 457 visas. He proposed that, where previously sponsors contributed 1-2% of company payroll to train people to fill a skills gap, businesses would now simply give Home Affairs that money.

The plan was that over four years, money raised through this scheme would then make up $1.2 billion of the Department of Education’s $1.5 billion Skilling Australians Fund (SAF). It was known as the SAF levy.

It seemed like a win-win: companies could still hire international workers, the federal government would collect the money and distribute through existing state training schemes, and Australians could develop the skills we are, for whatever reason, currently lacking.