In recent years, foreign workers were able to come to work in Australia using a 457 visa if there was a genuine workforce shortage. However, the system was being abused and 457 workers were performing tasks that other unemployed Australian citizens were willing and able to do. The range of occupations for which employment under the 457 visa program was allowed is far too broad. In 2016, George Christensen made a number of representations to parliament, calling for the 457 visa program to be scrapped in North Queensland where many skilled workers were unemployed.
In April 2017, the Liberal National Government took the issue one step further by scrapping the 457 visa program altogether. The move came because the Australian public lost confidence in the program and there was a clear view that Australian workers were being displaced in favour of foreign workers.
The replacement program has much tougher requirements and 200 fewer occupations that foreigners were able to fill. There will be a requirement for proven market testing and a doubling of the cost to businesses employing foreign workers. The added cost will make it uneconomical to employ a foreign worker in place of an Australian worker. What will effectively be a foreign worker tax (not applicable to backpackers) will fund training of Australian workers to fill skills shortages.
While some businesses had supported the scrapping of the 457 visa program some critics believed Australians were not hard workers and were more often clock-watchers. While small businesses in this country need to be supported, they don’t have a right to pick and choose. They should employ an Aussie when they can, regardless of the work ethic. That’s what good training is about.
Report cases of foreign worker visa programs being rorted here.