20/4/2017 Source: SBS News, AAP
18 Apr 2017 - 2:32 PM UPDATED 18 Apr 2017 - 7:42 PMThe federal government says it will abolish the 457 visa program that allows skilled foreigners to work in Australia.
Malcolm Turnbull has announced he is abolishing the 457 visa program for skilled migrants.
The prime minister said Australia was a successful multicultural "immigration nation" but it was time to put Australians first.
"The fact remains Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs, " he said in a video posted to Facebook on Tuesday.
"We will no longer allow 457 visas to be passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians."
Mr Turnbull said it remained critical to give businesses access to skilled staff.
The 457 visa will be replaced initially by a new temporary two-year visa specifically designed to recruit the "best and the brightest in the national interest", Mr Turnbull said.
"The fact remains Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs."
Under the government's plan the list of 650 occupation classifications that qualify for a temporary visa will be reduced by 200.
The new visas will require applicants to have previous work experience.
A second four-year visa will require a higher standard of English language skills as well as a proper criminal check.
There were 95, 758 foreign workers on 457 visas as of September 2016, according to the Department of Immigration.
The majority of visa holders are from India (26.6 per cent), followed by the United Kingdom (16.9 percent) and China (6.1 per cent).
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the new two-year visa would not allow permanent residency, but anyone now in Australia on a 457 visa will not be affected by the new arrangements.
His office confirmed with SBS News the new program will be “phased in” starting on Wednesday and fully operational by March 2018.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten slammed the plan via Twitter.
"Make no mistake, the only job Malcolm Turnbull cares about saving is his own, " he wrote.
Shadow Minister for Employment Services Ed Husic said the announcement was light on detail.
“The last time the Coalition was in government they got rid of all Labor market testing around these visas.”
Labor is linking the announcement to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s five-point plan announced on Monday, which included a push to ban immigration, albeit temporarily.
“You’ve got Malcolm Turnbull releasing a one-point plan to save one job, and one job only, his own, ” Mr Husic said.
Crossbench Senators Nick Xenophon and Pauline Hanson have backed the government’s decision to trim the temporary foreign worker scheme.
However both have used the announcement to increase pressure on state and federal governments over skills training.
Senator Xenophon said the replacement of the 457 scheme was a “welcome change” in seeking a "long term solution which means more Australians being trained”.
"It will now force state and federal governments to tackle skills shortages because governments have become lazy in the way that 457 visas have allowed governments to ignore skills shortages by just having 457 workers, ” he told SBS News.view original