New Australian immigration minister: I'll be tough on 457 fraud

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The new Australian immigration minister Scott Morrison has said that he will be 'tough' on those abusing the 457 temporary work visa. Speaking at an immigration conference in Canberra on Monday 28th October 2013, said 'you will not hear from this government that migrants take Australian's jobs'.

Mr Morrison became immigration minister in September 2013 after the right-wing Coalition won the national election on 7th September. In opposition, as immigration spokesman, he opposed changes introduced to the 457 system by the Labor government to prevent abuse of the system.

Mr Morrison and the then leader of the opposition (now Prime Minister) Tony Abbott, argued that there was no compelling evidence of widespread abuse of the 457 system so it was not necessary to introduce measures to prevent abuse.

Unions complained of abuse of 457 visa

Earlier this year, in the run up to the general election, Australian unions had complained that some employers were nominating foreign workers for unskilled positions, were paying them less than Australian workers and were thereby disadvantaging Australian workers.

The 457 visa became an electoral issue. The Labor immigration minister Brendan O'Connor told journalists in March 2013 that he believed that about 10,000 457 visas, about 10% of the total, were obtained by 'rorting' or abuse of the system.

Australian industry groups said that this was not the case. The Coalition, then in opposition, condemned Mr O'Connor's claims as electoral politics.

No evidence of 'rorting'

In June, Tony Abbott, then leader of the opposition, said that Mr O'Connor had 'claimed that there were some 10,000 examples of rorts and wasn't able to produce any evidence at all'.

He said that there were actually probably closer to 200 rorts a year, and added that 'no system is perfect'. He said that Labor was using the issue to look tough on immigration to win votes.

Labor rushed through reforms of the 457 visa regime in June. The main provision of this act was the introduction of a requirement for employers to carry out Labour Market Testing before employing a foreign worker with a 457 visa.

Labour Market Testing should be introduced in November

The LMT regime is due to be introduced in November 2013 but Mr Morrison has said that he is keen to scrap the requirement which he says would be expensive for businesses to carry out and unnecessary.

But, Mr Morrison says, he will still crack down on abuse. He told Australian journalists 'If the 457 program is abused, it will be undermined and its critical values to Australia will be diminished. I'm asking industry and employers to help the government protect this vital asset for the Australian economy by making sure it is used properly, in the right circumstances and is not abused'.

The Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) allows foreign workers to work in Australia providing that they are sponsored by an Australian employer which is approved by the Australian immigration department.

Australian employer should try to find settled worker before nominating

They must be nominated to fill a skilled role and the Australian employer should have tried and failed to find a settled Australian worker to fill the role.

A 457 visa entitles its holder to live in Australia for up to four years. Holders can enter and leave the country as often as they wish, can live anywhere in the country, providing they continue to work in the nominated position, and bring their dependent families with them.

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