04 March 2013

Prime minister backs 457 visa action

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said she supports the upcoming changes the 457 visa program, saying they will get the 'out of control' visa stream back on track.

Australia visa

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has backed her new immigration minister in his first contentious policy decision.

Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor announced last month he would introduce legislation to make the 457 visa - which allows employers to bring in temporary foreign workers - harder to obtain.

Several businesses and recruitment companies have criticised the decision, concern also echoed by some government departments, but Ms Gillard has backed the changes.

The prime minister said her Labour Party had inherited an 'out of control' visa system from their predecessor, the Liberal Party, and Mr O'Connor's changes were essential to bringing the system back under control.

"Every step of the way we have been in place new conditions to crack down on the rorts [abuse of the system]," said Ms Gillard.

"We've done that in the past and we will continue to crack down as necessary."

Critics of the government's decision to tighten visa regulations claim the visa is only used as intended - as a last resort - and that the changes will make it even harder to find staff.

Ms Gillard said she understood this concern and said the system would still be open to legitimate applicants: when no Australians were available.

"What I also understand is there have been too many times where people have got the skills to get the job and they don't get the job and in those circumstances I want to make sure that Australian workers are coming first."

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy.

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