Abbott Government Loosens 457 Visa Rules

Tony Abbott and his Liberal government have made adjustments to the 457 Visa regulation, allowing employers to again hire an unlimited amount of foreign workers with a temporary working visa. The reopening of this controversial is in stark contrast to the previous Labour government who who tightened regulation to prevent employers from hiring more workers then they originally advertised to the market.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott Changes 457 Visa Laws

Prime Minister Tony Abbott

When elected to power late in 2013 Tony Abbott declared Australia open for business, vowing to remove all red tape and temporary working visas is the latest area where federal legislation has tapered off. Under these more lenient laws, employers will not be face fines for hiring more foreign employees on skilled 457 migrant visas than they applied for.

The major reason behind ALP government changes to these laws in 2013 was due to a number of companies in construction, mining and IT hiring many more foreign workers than they had applied for. The straw that broke the camel’s back was one company allegedly bringing in 800 workers under the 457 visa in an 18 month period when they were only granted approval for 100 visas over three years.

Unions such as the Australian Workers Union say that this new legislation destabilises Australian job security; in the past it has also lead to the mistreatment of foreign workers. The latest change in 457 visa regulation has coincided with a number of job losses in the automotive and manufacturing industry and Australian Workers Union assistant national secretary Scott McDine says that “its deeply concerning that in a jobs crisis, the government is sneaking through changes that undermine local jobs and conditions.”

In March 2013 then Prime Minister Julia Gillard said that the temporary working visa scheme needed a shake up and during an election campaign visit to Sydney’s west vowed to tighten laws, ensuring foreign workers did not get any preferential treatment at the expense of Australian workers.

Around the same time last year, mining magnate and the world’s wealthiest woman Gina Rinehart warned that Australians needed to work harder to compete with workers in foreign countries who are willing to work for less money. However, later that year Barry Fitzgerald, boss of one of Rinehart’s iron ore projects, distanced himself from those claims and said that he was confident he could find competent staff locally.

Before the cap was brought in in 2013 the number of temporary visitors on 457 visas was increasing rapidly. In fact in fiscal year 2009/10 67,980 visas were granted. This grew to 126,350 visas granted in 2012/13 according to the Department of Immigration.

Government spokesman for Immigration and Border Protection ‘Michaelia Cash’ said that “while the Coalition is committed to deregulation and the removal of unnecessary red tape, we are equally committed to ensuring the integrity of the 457 program.”

A review into the overall purpose of the 457 visa led by the Coalition is already underway with findings to be made available later in the year.

457 Visa Skilled Worker Stats