23 Feb 2013

Australia to tighten temporary visa scheme

6:57 pm on 23 February 2013

The Australian government is cracking down on a visa scheme for temporary overseas workers saying it has evidence the programme is being used to discriminate against Australians.

Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor said the 457 visa programme would be tightened to ensure it is used only to address genuine skills shortages, and that local workers are getting a "fair go".

Under the changes, employers will be required to demonstrate they are nominating a position where there is a genuine shortage of workers, while English language requirements for some jobs will also be raised.

Mr O'Connor said compliance and enforcement powers would also be boosted to stop employers who are rorting the system.

"It has become clear ... that the growth in the 457 programme is out of step with those skills shortages, and the government has evidence that some employers - and I emphasise that word, some - are using 457 visas to discriminate against locals," Mr O'Connor said in a statement.

He said the government did not want to punish those employers who have genuine skill shortages but would not accept any flouting of the rules or deliberate overlooking of local employees.