Tuesday 22nd Aug, 2017

Turnbull’s 457 change should limit ‘political point scoring’

Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Creative Commons / Ash Carter
Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Creative Commons / Ash Carter

The Australian Mines and Metals Association says Malcolm Turnbull’s changes to rules around foreign workers should mean the contributions of skilled migrants are no longer “trivialised” by politicians.

Turnbull on Tuesday announced the abolishment of 457 visas, and their replacement with two new visa types.

A two-year visa with fewer occupation categories, and a more specialised, four-year visa “targeted at higher skills,” will be introduced to replace the 457s, the PM said.

“The migration program should only operate in our national interest,” Turnbull said.

“This is all about Australia’s interest. This is about jobs for Australians.”

Immigration minister Peter Dutton said current visa holders would not be impacted by the change on their current papers.

“The existing 457 visa program is conducted for a period of four years, but essentially it is open-ended, and it results, in many cases, in a migration outcome,” Dutton said.

“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.”

The AMMA welcomed the news, saying the new scheme would “help ensure skilled migrants, and the significant contribution they make to our nation, is no longer trivialised and leveraged for cheap political point-scoring”.

But AMMA said it should be recognised that the existing 457 program was working as intended.

“The system was built to be responsive to changes in our economy and fluctuating labour demand, and has delivered on this objective,” AMMA reasoned.

“The resource industry is one sector that has seen a dramatic change in labour demand and skills availability in recent years.

“If today’s announcement is at all effective at silencing the cheap politics and scaremongering that has taken place around temporary skilled migration in recent years, AMMA would welcome that outcome,” the Association continued.

“But overhauling a responsible skilled immigration policy that has proven highly responsive to labour demand and supported nation-building projects, is hardly the type of ‘big picture’ policy thinking that will address Australia’s pressing employment and economic challenges.”