Politics

“We’re Putting Australians First”: Malcolm Turnbull Just Axed 457 Visas

Here's what we know so far.

Malcolm Turnbull has announced that the government will abolish the four-year 457 visa for migrant workers, in a shock move that he says will put “Australians first”.

In a video posted to Facebook on Tuesday afternoon, the Prime Minister declared that “Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs. So we are abolishing 457 visas, the visas that bring temporary foreign workers into our country.”

“We will no longer allow 457 visas to be passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians,” he added.

The government has previously indicated that it was looking to reduce the number of foreign workers who could seek employment in Australia.

The Prime Minister said that the 457 visa will be replaced by new visas “specifically designed to recruit the best and brightest in the national interest”. The new visas will include new requirements including “previous work experience, better English language proficiency and labour market testing.”

The government has since clarified that it will be introducing two new Temporary Skilled Shortage visas, available for two years or four, that will come into effect in March 2018. The two-year “short-term” visa will apply to more than 200 fewer jobs than the 457 visa, and the four-year “medium-term” visa will apply to even fewer than that. Additionally, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton confirmed that the new two-year visa will not offer a pathway to permanent residency.

The 457 visa is designed to give businesses the option of employing foreign workers in the event that suitable candidates cannot be found in Australia. Migrants on the visa can range from doctors to programmers to tradespeople to cooks, and are eligible to work in Australia for up to four years. They are also able to bring family members to Australia on a secondary visa.

There are reportedly around 95,000 people currently living and working in Australia on 457 visas. Turnbull confirmed that these people will not be affected by the sudden changes, and will be allowed to see out the length of their visas as intended.

While the significance of the changes remain to be seen, there’s no mistaking the tinge of nationalism present in the announcement. Certainly, politicians on the far right where keen to claim credit for the announcement.

Bill Shorten, whose party has previously called for tighter restrictions on the use of migrant workers, tweeted that “the only job Malcolm Turnbull cares about saving is his own”.