Government set to review 457 migrant visa program

THE integrity of the controversial 457 skilled migrant visa program, responsible for a percentage of Gladstone's skilled foreign workforce, will be investigated.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announced the 457 program review on Friday.

This follows claims by Labor politicians and unions last year of widespread rorting by business, and an expansion of skilled migrants visas revealed last week.

While construction companies such as Bechtel maintain they hire locals first, often there are specific jobs that Australian workers can't fill.

Gladstone's medical system has had to entice doctors to work regionally, and often those from overseas will put their hands up. The same goes with school teachers.

Changes already made to the 457 program include the Abbott Government removing the cap on business nominations for skilled migrants to come to Australia to fill gaps in existing jobs.

This has essentially allowed businesses to recruit an unlimited supply of foreign workers, likely for large construction projects, a loophole closed by the previous government amid the rorting claims last year.

Mr Morrison said the independent review would investigate the program's "integrity", including the level of "non-compliance", and the quality and potential further deregulation of the visa system.

"The review will evaluate the regulatory framework of the 457 program and determine whether the existing requirements appropriately balance a need to ensure program integrity against the costs to employers endeavouring to access the program," he said.

Despite claims the program will now allow foreign workers to fill local jobs, Mr Morrison said the program was "not a substitute for Australian workers", but "vital" to the success of Australian businesses.

"A business that closes will employ no-one, a lose-lose situation for the employer and for Australian workers," he said.

The panel leading the review includes business and academic representatives, but not unions, who would be allowed to provide submissions to the review panel.


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