CANBERRA -- The Turnbull Government is scrapping the 457 visas for temporary foreign workers and replacing it with a new program with no pathway to citizenship and a new focus on Australian workers having "priority" for Australian jobs.
The Prime Minister said the controversial four year visa had "lost its credibility" and was to be replaced by a new visa class with greater requirements around work history, English skills and criminal background checks.
The announcement has been quickly claimed and praised by Pauline Hanson's One Nation and Cory Bernardi's new Australian Conservatives party.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) April 18, 2017
Turnbull said says the new visas will be "manifestly, rigorously, resolutely conducted" in the national interest.
"We always will be an immigration nation, but we must ensure that the foundation of that success is maintained," Turnbull told reporters in Canberra. "And the foundation is that our migration system is seen to work in the national interest.
"It is seen to deliver for Australians. It is seen to ensure that Australian jobs are filled by Australians wherever possible."
457 visas are designed to to bring in foreign workers in order to fill critical skill gaps. Many are doctors and nurses and the visas are often used in the IT sector.
But despite various government and immigration department crackdowns, there are concerns the visas are used in an open ended way and are used to employ foreign workers cheaply over Australian workers.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton declared that a foreign worker visa will not be a pathway to Australian citizenship.
The new visa system will include a two year skilled visa and a separate four year one targeting higher skills, with no permanent residency outcome at the end of either.
The four year visa will be subject to stricter tests and the number of occupations available for the two-year visa class will also be cut down by 200 from around 650 job types.
For people currently in Australia on a 457 visa - and there is understood to be just over 95,000 - there will be a grandfathering arrangement which will allow them to continue under the conditions of that visa.
Two new visas to replace the 457s (no word yet on what numbers they'll be named): a 2yr one and a 4yr one with tougher checks— Katina Curtis (@katinacurtis) April 18, 2017
One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson has quickly claimed responsibility for the Government's policy change.
The Government will deny their tough talk on immigration & plan to ban 457 visas is because of One Nation but we all know the truth! #auspol— Pauline Hanson (@PaulineHansonOz) April 18, 2017
But Turnbull has rejected any claim he's riffing off One Nation.
"It is a decision of the Government," he said. "This has been a careful exercise in policy development, and we're announcing the conclusions today."
Liberal Party defector Cory Bernardi has also claimed the policy shift.
But, Labor Leader Bill Shorten claims the announcement is all about the Prime Minister trying to keen his own job.
Make no mistake, the only job Malcolm Turnbull cares about saving is his own.— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) April 18, 2017
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