Australia open to skilled immigrants, despite visa warning

Australia’s Immigration Minister has said that employers who abuse the country’s temporary 457 visa system will be treated as harshly as people smugglers.


Temporary 457 visas allow Australian businesses to hire overseas workers for a period of up to four years, in order to fill job shortages when no Australian workers can be found. However, over the past 12 months it has emerged that a number of employers are abusing the system by hiring workers from overseas on cheaper wages then they would have to pay Australian workers.


In his first speech on the issue since being sworn in, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has vowed that the government will take a hard-line approach on anyone found to be misusing the system.


However, he did confirm that the country is still very much in the market for skilled immigrants and criticised the former Labour government on its use of the skilled migration programme, stating that skilled workers were made to feel unwelcome.


“While you hear me say very clearly the Coalition government under Tony Abbott is supportive of skilled migration, and has been consistent in thick and thin through various attacks particularly from the previous government when we were in opposition, I say this: If you abuse it then you can expect me in my first responsibility for law enforcement in immigration to be as tough on that as people-smugglers find that I will be tough on our borders,” he said.


“Because I know if the 457 programme is abused it will be undermined and its critical value to Australia will be diminished.”


During the speech, the minister also said that overseas students should be looking at coming to Australia, first and foremost, to study, rather than looking for a route to permanent residency. “We’re interested in selling education, not visas,” he revealed.


The minister also promised to reboot a “golden ticket” visa scheme which targets wealthy foreign investors, particularly those from China, India and the Middle East, stating the current system is not achieving the desired results.


Article published 23rd October 2013