We have been closely observing and monitoring the debacle that the current Labor government have been doing to the Immigration department and the 457 Visa programme. In particular the previous Immigration Minister Mr Brendan O’Connor MP who donned the hard hat and safety glasses, no doubt supplied by his Trade Union Comrades and took a sledge hammer to the 457 Visa system rendering it almost completely unusable, as was clearly the intention.
Prior to July 1st approximately 80% of our Visa applications were 457 Visa applications dealing with small to medium Australian companies employing skilled workers from overseas who just could not get their workers locally. Post July 1st 457 visa applications now equates to approximately 10% or less of our Visa applications. I suggest, from communication with other agents and the M.I.A. this would be similar for all 5000 of the registered migration agents in Australia.
Mr O’Connor with his bulldozer approach has made it near impossible for these small to medium businesses to consider the 457 visa programme and has created a maze of rules and regulations and red tape that makes it unattractive for them to consider. In our experience businesses will employ local workers first but when they cannot get local workers to fill the positions only then have they considered the 457 visa sponsorship option.
The 457 Visa programme was initially set up (by a Lobor Government) to help small to medium businesses fill positions that were not being filled by local workers and it has been operating very successfully for many years. Only twelve months ago the then immigration minister Chris Bowen stated that the 457 Visa Programme was a very successful programme and was working well.
Mr O’Connor’s claim that the 457 programme was being widely abused has just not been our experience. I am sure there are a small percentage of unscrupulous companies that have not been using the programme as it was intended and they should be dealt with severely but in general it is a scheme that has worked well.
It would also seem evident that these MP’s are forgetting that all of them are a product of successful migration to this fantastic country of ours. Mr Abbott stated in his debate with the Prime Minister when asked about the 457 Visa Programme that in his opinion people that have come to Australia on this programme have added positively to the Australian economy and community. I agree!