“Hear it here first – we’re putting jobs first and we’re putting Australians first by abolishing 457 visas”.
This is how Malcolm Turnbull chose to announce a major shift in migration policy, by making a statement on his Facebook Page (this is what “here” refers to).
The PM went on to say that the abolished program will be replaced with the new Temporary Skills Shortage Visa, a new system “specifically designed to recruit the best and brightest in the national interest” that will impose tougher requirements on businesses looking to employ foreign workers.
“The new visa will better target genuine skills shortages, including in regional Australia,” said Mr Turnbull.
“It will include new requirements, including previous work experience, better English language proficiency and labour testing.”
The new system will also include two new visa streams – a two-year visa (which would not allow permanent residency) and a four-year visa, which will require a “higher standard of English” and a police check. “This is about putting Australians first for Australian jobs”, said the PM, promising that the changes will not affect current 457 visa holders.
The announcement came with the pledge for the introduction of a new training fund to help fill skills gaps, to which employers will be expected to contribute, while more than 200 jobs will be removed from the occupations list issued each year by the Commonwealth – the 457 visa was introduced to fill gaps in skilled labour, but critics say it was just a stepping stone for mass migration.
According to the Immigration Department, there were 95,758 foreign workers on 457 visas as of September 2016.
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, stepped in to support the change, claiming credit for the governments move to adopt the party’s policies.