457 visas ‘as much a symptom as a problem’

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton address the media at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday. Picture: Alex Ellinghausen

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton address the media at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday. Picture: Alex Ellinghausen

Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis has backed her government’s plan to abolish 457 visas, saying the move would create more job opportunities, as an lllawarra union body adopts a wait-and-see approach.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull used a Facebook post on Tuesday afternoon to announce the controversial 457 visa program for temporary skilled migrants would be replaced by a new temporary visa.

The new visa would be designed to recruit “the best and brightest", with tougher English language tests and labour market testing requirements.

“We are putting jobs first, we are putting Australians first ... we are an immigration nation but the fact remains that Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs,” Mr Turnbull said on Facebook.

Ms Sudmalis also used Facebook to publish a post, which linked to Mr Turnbull’s video announcement and said: “Now there will be more employment opportunities #jobs #gilmore.”

South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris wasn’t quite as positive and said there was a bigger underlying issue at play. “It’s early days yet, the details are sketchy,’ Mr Rorris said.

“We don’t know if it’s just a change of names to another category or whether it actually does mean the abolition of a scheme which has became a rort for some unscrupulous employers who simply wanted to import labour and exploit them.

“If the Prime Minister is serious about this, that he does intend to stop the rorting of our immigration laws by unscrupulous bosses, then it is a positive thing.” 

Mr Rorris said the 457 visas were “as much a symptom as a problem”.

“The real causes behind the issue of skills gaps, where they exist, have to do with the privatisation of vocational education and training (VET) and the attacks on our TAFE institutions,” he said.

“So if the Prime Minister wants to be serious about addressing the real underlying issues then the solution is two-fold.”

Mr Rorris said the privatisation of VET was “the big underlying issue here” and the previous Labor government was “as much to blame as the current federal Liberal government”.

“Labor can’t hold the high moral ground when it comes to the privatisation of VET federally, because after all they introduced the contestability model into federal politics,” he said.

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