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Australian gov't scraps skilled migrant visa in new "Australians first" push
Last Updated: 2017-04-18 13:59 | Xinhua
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Australia's skilled migrant visa will be abolished in favor of a new, "Australians first" approach, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Tuesday.

In a video posted to social media on Tuesday, Turnbull announced that the 457 skilled migrant visa would be abolished in favor of two new visas which will require additional requirements for migrants to work in Australia.

Currently, the 457 visa allows Australian employers to turn to overseas workers to fill shortages in skilled positions.

Crucially, it is currently uncapped and, as of September 2016, there were 95,757 skilled workers in Australia.

Turnbull said that under the new rules, Australians must be given the 'first crack' at jobs, while skilled migrants would be brought in to "fill the gaps" in areas which are suffering a skills shortage.

"We are putting jobs first, we are putting Australians first ... we are an immigration nation but the fact remains that Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs," Turnbull said in the video.

"Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs, so we are abolishing the 457 visa, the visa that brings temporary foreign workers into our country. We will no longer allow 457 visas to be passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians.

"The 457 visa will be replaced by a new temporary visa specifically designed to recruit the best and brightest in the national interest."

In a press conference following the release of the video, the prime minister said the current 457 visa had "lost its credibility," as many employers were bringing in skilled migrants instead of looking for Australians to fill their job openings.

"We always will be an immigration nation but we must ensure the foundation of that success is maintained and that foundation is that migration should be in the national interest," Turnbull said.

"It needs to ensure that Australian jobs are filled by Australians wherever possible. Migrants should be brought in to fill gaps and should not be brought in because an employer finds it easier to hire a foreign worker."

Two new, temporary visas will replace the 457 skilled migrants visa, and will be "very different" from the one which it replaces. In addition to the visas being shorter and closed-ended, applicants will require two years of work experience, as well as a proper police check and criminal check which Turnbull said was "not the case at the moment."

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the new visas would be two and four years respectively, while they will both carry no "permanent residency outcome".

"In many cases (the 457 visa) results in a migration outcome, that is, someone going into permanent residency and becoming a citizen, which is a significant attraction of the 457 visa," he told the press.

"There will be no permanent residency outcome (under the new visa program)."

Despite being a champion of scrapping the visa, opposition leader Bill Shorten described the changes as a simple ploy for Malcolm Turnbull to remain in the nation's top job.

"Make no mistake, the only job Malcolm Turnbull cares about saving is his own," he posted on the social media.

The government's announcement comes after last month's crackdown on the 457 visa. At the time, Dutton said the government would be abolishing fast-track arrangements which were allowing skilled migrants to work in fast food restaurants.

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