“We’ll no longer let 457 visas be passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians” says Turnbull

The Turnbull government has cracked down on foreign worker visas and adopted an “Australians first” approach to skilled migration, scrapping the controversial 457 visa program.

Two new temporary skills shortage visas will impose tougher English language tests and stricter labour market testing, and require at least two years of work experience and a mandatory police check.

“Australians must have priority for Australian jobs – so we’re abolishing the [class] 457 visas, the visas that bring temporary foreign workers into our country,” Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull said in announcing the change.

“We’ll no longer let 457 visas be passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians.”

The Skilled Occupation List that was the guide for nominating an eligible occupation for applying for skilled visas, has now been reduced to 435 occupations, down from 651.

The SOL has been replaced by the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) which has 216 occupations, including Actors, Authors, pilots, biochemists, firefighters, flying instructors, conveyancers etc cut from the previous list.

The 457 visa scheme, which allows employer-sponsored foreign workers and their dependents to live in Australia for up to four years, has been subject to a lot of debate in recent years.

Commenting on changes to Australia’s immigration and citizenship program, Malcolm Turnbull says changes says it is important to attract people who will “embrace our values and positively contribute”.

“Changes to citizenship will enable our migration program to contribute still further to our social cohesion while enhancing our security,” Turnbull said. “This is important for temporary visas, vital for permanent residency and citizenship. Citizenship must be valued and we’re making changes so the practices and principles of those obtaining citizenship are consistent with our cultural values.”

Australia, like other major powers in the western world, has seen a rise in right-wing populism, which has brought with it strong anti-immigrant rhetoric. Many conservative politicians in Australia have called for a drastic reduction of immigration to Australia, citing a priority for jobs for citizens, and easing pressure on house prices, particularly in Sydney, where prices grew by nearly 20% last year.