​Turnbull scraps 457 visas


​Turnbull scraps 457 visas

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday made the shock announcement that his government will scrap the controversial 457 visa system - get the reactions and the details here.


Get unlimited access to all of our content.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday made the shock announcement that his government will scrap the controversial 457 visa system. 

A new Temporary Skill Shortage Visa will be introduced instead. It will be restricted to critical skill shortages, will include stronger English language requirements and mandatory criminal checks. 

“This will ensure Australian workers are given the absolute first priority for jobs, while businesses will be able to temporarily access the critical skills they need to grow if skilled Australians workers are not available,” the Prime Minister said in a statement. 

The new visa will have two streams – short term, issued for two years, and medium term, issued for up to four years. 

Both streams will require mandatory labour market testing, a non-discriminatory workforce test, a market salary assessment and a new two-year work experience requirement. The new visa will include stronger training obligations for employers sponsoring foreign skilled workers. 

The occupation list – i.e. a list of occupations for which the old 457 visa could be issued – will be reduced from 651 to 435 occupations (a reduction of about 33%) and access to 59 other occupations will be “restricted”. 

Implementation of the new system will begin immediately, the Prime Minister added, with completion due by March 2018. 

Industry reaction

Reaction from industry was immediate. 

"The restructuring of Australia's temporary skilled migration program announced by the federal government today will help to build public confidence in the program so Australian businesses can continue to access skills from overseas workers,” the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said.

Jenny Lambert, acting chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, added: "Australian businesses need access to skills in order to grow. We welcome the replacement of the 457 visa and the reiteration of the need to focus on addressing skills shortages in those areas of Australia where some employers find it tough to get the workforce they need.”

The National Farmers’ Federation said that it “hopes the Prime Minister's 'new' temporary visa program will better address the labour needs currently constraining agriculture.” 

NFF chief executive Tony Mahar added the '457 visa' did little to facilitate farmers' access to the skills they required, with shearers the only farm role included.

"The Prime Minister's announcement of the 457 visa's demise is not disastrous for the farm sector," Mr Mahar said.

He said access to skilled workers was essential to the continued growth and productivity of Australian agriculture but unfortunately critical skill shortages existed across many farm industries.

Tourism & Transport Forum, a tourism advocacy group, urged the federal government to ensure that changes to skilled labour visas did not disadvantage the tourism industry.

The chief executive officer of TTF, Margy Osmond, said a continuous pipeline of skilled labour from overseas was vital for sectors such as hospitality, which has ongoing shortages of key staff including chefs and hotel managers.

Tourism is growth industry in Australia, and a critically important contributor to our national economy, Ms Osmond said, adding that the industry directly employed 580,200 people in 2015-16, or 4.9 per cent of the national workforce, and continues to grow.

By comparison, agriculture employed 321,600 people and mining provided 227,800 direct jobs, she said.

Political reaction

Greens immigration spokesperson Nick McKim said that the announcement “was little more than a jingoistic lullaby sung to sooth One Nation voters”.

He added that "while the current 457 visa process is not perfect, today's Prime Ministerial revelations owe more to the government's panic over its loss of support to One Nation than to a genuine desire for reform. The IT and innovation sectors rely heavily on overseas skilled workers, so it's important that the government doesn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. We will await details on the government's new visa process, and hope that they are forthcoming soon so the debate can move past the kind of patriotic guff we heard from the PM."

Meanwhile, the Australian Council of Trade Unions said that the Prime Minister’s announcement means that 457 visas will merely have a different name and will not address the concerns of unemployed workers, or those who want more work-hours.

More details

Further details can be found at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Notice on the main DIBP website 
Factsheet one 
Factsheet two

Disclosure: WorkplaceInfo and the Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry are associated entities.
Post details