Calls to increase the number of 457 Visas

TONY Abbott (the opposition leader, and more than likely, next Australian Prime Minister) has called for the capped number on business and skilled migrants entering Australia to be lifted, stating that workers on skilled visas would become the “mainstay” of our immigration intake.

In defiance of union concerns, Tony Abbott wants to lift the limit on 457 visas granted to skilled workers for temporary work for up to four years.

Mr Abbott says workers on 457 visas are “the best immigrants”, who contribute immediately to the economy and provide the best long-term workers when they convert their visas to permanent residency. The current skilled migrant intake is 125,850 people.

“Provided they are paid the same wages and provided there aren’t Australians who could readily fill these jobs, businesses should be able to bring in the workers they need to keep growing, and create more local jobs,” Mr Abbott will say in a speech to be delivered today.

“A stronger economy is in everyone’s interests; immigrants who contribute to a stronger economy improve the life of every Australian.

“Under a Coalition government, section 457 visas won’t be just a component, but a mainstay of our immigration program.

“For the Coalition, the issue has never been whether or not Australia should have a strong migration program.

“It’s always been what’s the best migration program for our country at this time and what can best be done to help migrants to settle quickly into their new life.”

The proposal to allow more 457 visas comes against a backdrop of union concerns that the Gillard government is going to increase business and skilled immigration in the budget to address bottlenecks in industry created by skills shortages.

Yesterday, amid reports that Wayne Swan was poised to boost the number of skilled migrants by at least 5000 in the budget, the national secretary of the construction division of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, Dave Noonan, told The Australian the rise should be aimed at “genuine shortages”.

Mr Noonan demanded better labour-market testing to ensure employers tried to hire Australian workers first, though he stressed the union favoured permanent migration over an increase in workers coming in on 457 visas.

“We have actually got serious job losses happening at the moment,” he said.

“We’d be concerned about more skilled migrants coming in while Australians are going on the dole. We need to be careful the skilled migration scheme is not a scheme that can be abused by unscrupulous employers, who bring people in rather than give jobs to unemployed Australians.”

Coalition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said a 5000-person boost to permanent migration was “a blunt instrument to deal with skills shortages . . . Boosting permanent migration is not the best way to deal with the skills crisis in states like Western Australia and Queensland — well over half of skilled migrants end up in Melbourne or Sydney.”

Mr Abbott argues that turning skilled temporary visa workers into full-time residents is best because it “helps Australia to be more prosperous and productive and the best way for an immigrant to settle in is to work”.

Category: Australian Visas
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
Click on a tab to select how you'd like to leave your comment
Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>