In a move welcomed by major business groups but slammed by political rivals as kowtowing to One Nation, the Prime Minister announced the abolition of the 457 visa scheme for temporary skilled workers, saying it was time to put Australian workers first.
In a move that outbids Labor leader Bill Shorten, who promised a clamp down on the visa scheme as part of his "Australia first" push after Donald Trump's election victory, Mr Turnbull said 457s had lost credibility would be replaced by "a new visa that better targets skills shortage" and will be much more tightly targeted.
The new scheme will involve a two-year visa with no prospect of permanent residency at the end and available to 200 fewer occupations than the 457 visa. There will also be a new four-year visa available to just 183 high-end occupations
Both will have stricter requirements including the areas of previous work experience, English language proficiency and a greater onus on employers to fill to jobs locally first. The cost to employers of the four-year visa will be $2400 a worker, more than twice the cost of a 457 visa application. The two-year visa will cost $1150.
"It will require a full - a proper police record, a criminal check, which is not the case at the moment. It will require in almost all cases - the majority of cases - mandatory labour market testing. Again, a very significant change," Mr Turnbull said.
"Now, these new visas will ensure that Australian businesses have access to the workers from overseas they need to fill real skill gaps, but not otherwise, and that Australians, wherever possible, where jobs are - vacancies are there, where opportunities are there, Australians will be able to fill them. This is critically important."
The new rules will not apply to the 95,000 people already in the country on existing 457 visas.
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