In a budget unveiled last week, the Australian government of Malcolm Turnbull put “Australians first” by cutting the 457 visa for foreign workers and bringing in tougher English testing for immigrants.
Turnbull had said in April: “We will no longer allow 457 visas to be passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians. We’re putting jobs first, and we’re putting Australians first.”
But what will this mean for a country with growing roots and trade in Asia?
Dan Engles, managing director of Visa Solutions in Perth, Western Australia, said: “For the impact on China and Asia more generally, past the English language requirements it does send a message that we are increasing the barriers to the movement of people and especially if you don’t look and speak as we do here in Australia.”
The 457 visa was introduced during John Howard’s premiership, and designed to let skilled migrants in, to fill positions locals could not. Those using a such visas make up only 1 per cent of the workforce.
The 457 has now been replaced by a temporary skills shortage visa, with a two- or four-year term, and some 200 jobs cut from the original list of 650 eligible for a visa. Businesses using the new system to bring in foreign workers for positions Australians cannot fill will be required to contribute to the Skilling Australians Fund, which will support up to 300,000 trainees, apprentices and other workers.