Australia toughens foreign worker visas, says Australian jobs for Australians

Posted April 19, 2017

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced the Coalition is abolishing the 457 visa system, which will be replaced with two new classes of visa.

In a press conference following the release of the video, the prime minister said the current 457 visa had "lost its credibility", as many employers were bringing in skilled migrants instead of looking for Australians to fill their job openings.

Bill Shorten has labelled as a "con job" the Turnbull government's decision to scrap the 457 visa program and replace it with two new foreign worker visas.

"We're putting jobs first, we're putting Australians first", Turnbull said.

"Who really believes that given an option between an Australian resident and a visa holder with the same experience/qualifications we would choose the visa holder?"

Members of Australia's far-right political parties, particularly the anti-immigration One Nation party, were fierce critics of the 457 visa, arguing that it was allowing foreign workers to steal jobs from Australians. "They will continue under the conditions of that visa", Dutton said. However, the PM said, the programme is being misused by firms to import affordable foreign workers.

The list for the longer visa will be even more strict, said Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.

The mining industry represents only 1.8 per cent, or 230, of new 457 applications and 2.4 per cent of the nation's 96,000 457 visa holders, according to the most recent government report from past year.

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The 457 visa, which is now used by approximately 95,000 foreign workers, will be replaced by a new temporary visa - and the list of occupations that qualify for a visa will be significantly reduced.

Turnbull also announced the establishment of a new training fund to help Australians fill skills gaps that now exist in the country.

Some experts said the government should focus on boosting education and training systems to address Australia's skills needs. "This is a very substantial reduction in the list of skills that qualify for these visas", Turnbull said.

The new visa would "better target genuine skills shortages" and would include new requirements such as previous work experience, better English-language proficiency, a criminal record check, and labour market testing.

The changes were made to ensure that the program met the skills needed in Australia and increase the quality and economic distribution of skilled migrants.

Those who are on the 457 visa in Australia now will not be affected by the new visa reforms.

Neither will lead to permanent residency, Turnbull said.