Image: Former Drake Chief Matthew Tukaki takes aim at a tired skilled migration system
Australia’s 457 Visa scheme is being scrapped in a move that is being seen by some as taking a hot button issue off the political agenda. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made the announcement alongside Immigration Minister Peter Dutton in Canberra yesterday that will potentially impact tens of thousands of workers across a range of skilled migration categories.
The 457 scheme was introduced by the Howard Government in 1996 and covers more than 650 occupations that also allow some visa holders to bring in family members.
The program is being replaced by two new visa categories which will demand a higher market and English language test. In the traditional permanent residency pathway has been done away with for those who will come in under the new two year visa with the four year visa residence eligibility being extended from two years to three years before an application can be made.
In making the announcement Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that "manifestly, rigorously, resolutely conducted in the national interest … "The migration program should only operate in our national interest. This is all about Australia's interest,” Meanwhile Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has said that the scheme needed to be tightened: "What we propose is that under the temporary skills shortage visa short-term stream there will be a two-year visa, with the options of two years, but there won't be permanent residency outcomes at the end of that."
Image: PM Malcolm Turnbull scrapping the 457 system
The peak of 457 visa’s being granted came under the Labor Government between 2011-2013 (see infographic sourced from the Parliamentary Library).
Labor Senator Penny Wong has told the ABC’s Lateline program that "The Coalition lined up to criticize Labor when we raised concerns about the 457 program, when we said that there should be labour market testing, when we said there was exploitation in the system, and we were accused by them of dreadful policy, of vilifying skilled migrants," she said.
"Now magically Malcolm Turnbull's had a change of heart because I suspect the polls are telling him that he's got a problem when it comes to the lack of local jobs.
"Well, I for one don't believe that this is really what Malcolm wants to do. I think this is what Malcolm thinks he has to do."
Former Chief of employment company Drake, Matthew Tukaki, has said that skilled migration is one thing but there also must be a focus on local jobs for Australians: “The reality is we need skilled migration because there are some industry categories where we either do not have enough supply of workers or we are not churning out enough skills. It is one thing to scrap the 457 visa systems but it is another thing to ensure we make the hard decisions around re-engineering our education system to provide for the very skills we need and must produce.”
Continuing: “Our education system is not always purpose built for producing skills for our economy whether they be tertiary technical or vocational – in actual fact we have become so enamoured by the international student export market (now worth tens of billions of dollars) we are not doing nearly enough to invest in trades or transition older workers back into some form of employment.”
“There are some roles on the current list such as betting agency manager and travel manager – I mean come on – as if we can’t find those skills locally and by the way these quasi sector groups that have been advocating for the addition of some of these roles on the list has done nothing more than serve their interests and not the economy. It throws legitimate industries like IT and others into the same bucket as betting agencies and Antique dealers which is why change is needed.” Tukaki said.
Business Council of Australia CEO, Jennifer Westacott has told media that: "The capacity for businesses to hire temporary workers to fill genuine skill shortages has been an overall boon for Australia, allowing the economy to ride out volatile economic cycles including in the mining industry," Ms Westacott said.
"Now that the government has taken this decision, it is crucial that they work with employers to get the details right and ensure industry's ability to fill genuine skills shortages is enhanced, not degraded," she said.
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