Just as we resigned ourselves to the reality that big Malc was determined to do absolutely nothing of substance as Prime Minister, he came out swinging today with the surprise scrapping of the 457 visa. On closer listen though, it sounds like not much more than another case of the PM pandering to the xenophobes.
Quick facts. The number of people using 457 visas for work (primary and secondary) sits around 170,000. While this group makes up a very small portion of our 11+ million workforce, they’re increasingly becoming a political football as some segments of society love screaming “they took our jobs!”.
Malcolm has decided to ride this wave of resentment to some degree of relevance by eradicating the 457 program altogether. However, likely hoping that most people won’t read past the initial headline, in his statement today, Malcolm went on to say that the 457 visa will be replaced by “a new temporary visa, specifically designed to recruit the best and brightest”.
See, the thing is, that is kind of what the 457 visa is (was) meant to do. Address skill shortages in Australia by bringing in skilled workers.
While we don’t have any real detail yet regarding this “change”, we suspect it will boil down to a rebranding of the 457 visa, with some additional restrictions or requirements to close the loopholes of which employers have long been taking advantage. Possibly the barista community will soon be a little less geographically diverse.