The Gillard government announced changes to the 457 immigration visa system, purportedly to reduce any abuse of the scheme, and to “protect Australian workers.”
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that:
- the number of businesses found to have abused the scheme has steadily declined (reference: Sydney Morning Herald).
- only three businesses had civil cases brought against them for misuse of the 457 system.
Immigration and citizenship minister Brendan O’Connor explained that one of the key reasons for the reform was to eradicate the issue of rorts: “And the government has evidence that some employers – and I emphasise that word, some – are using 457 visas to discriminate against locals. This cannot continue.”
Former One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has supported Julia Gillard, with Ms Hanson telling the Australian Financial Review that foreign workers are necessary to fill gaps in the workforce, adding that it’s a necessity which shouldn’t have arisen if the Australian workforce had been developed properly.
Shadow minister for immigration and citizenship Scott Morrison said that skilled migration has benefited the country, writing in the Daily Telegraph that: “Under the Howard government, skilled migration increased from less than 30 per cent of our permanent migration program to almost 70 per cent, transforming immigration from a welfare program under Labor, to an economic program that boosted productivity and increased labour force participation. 457 visas played a critical role in this achievement.”
Mr Morrison said at the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) Congress that increasing the nation’s population is sustainable if it is backed up by policies of a responsible government.
Of the recent revelations that Ms Gillard’s media director John McTernan is in Australia on a 457 visa, a spokesperson for her office told The Australian that there apparently is a link between the Coalition raising the issue and their need to avoid questions over their position on the carbon tax.