ACS backs Morrison on 457 'abuse' crackdown

Scott Morrison endorses 457 visas but issues warning on their misuse

The Australian Computer Society has welcomed a commitment by the immigration minister, Scott Morrison, to tackle "abuse" of the 457 visa scheme.

“We have long said that employers who abuse the 457 visa scheme should be held to account," ACS policy spokesperson, Adam Redman, said in a statement.

"The scheme has helped the Australian economy by providing skilled workers where they otherwise have not been available, and the fact that some employers have sought to abuse the scheme has been incredibly disappointing," Redman added.

"I know if the 457 programme is abused, it will be undermined and its critical value to Australia will be diminished," Morrison said in a speech yesterday to the Migration Institute of Australia's National Conference in Canberra.

"I want to protect it and I'm asking you and I'm asking industry and employers to help the government protect this vital asset for the Australian economy by making sure it is used properly in the right circumstances and it is not abused."

"457s have been a mainstay of Australia's skilled migration programme since their inception in 1996. The programme is flexible and responds to the economic cycle in line with employer demand," Morrison told the conference.

"The Coalition has always approached this issue from the perspective that Australia's migration programme is intended as a supplement, not a substitute, to the Australian workforce and there are particular challenges at the moment with changes in the resources sector and the level of peak employment that's been experienced there and in other parts of the construction sector where people who were working in those roles are returning to their suburbs and communities around Australia and are seeking employment back in those places."

Morrison said that the answer to abuse of the 457 visa process is not "more regulation to tie business or practitioners up in more union red tape", but "to have more effective enforcement methodologies and practises and resources."

“I’m on record encouraging those who know of abuses occurring to name and shame organisations who flout the rules," Redman said.

"Fair Work Australia and the DIBP both have processes in place to protect holders of 457 visas from abuse, and I strongly support the use of those processes.

"My hope is that the scheme can continue to operate in the manner that it is intended to, and that any and all abuse of the system can be stopped. To see Minister Morrison taking such a strong stance is indeed heartening."

The former Labor government announced earlier this year that it would tighten rules around 457 visas, which are intended to be used by businesses when skills shortages can't be filled with local workers.

The then prime minister, Julia Gillard, told a trade union conference in March that it was "not acceptable that information technology jobs, the quintessential jobs of the future, the very opportunities being created by the digital economy, precisely where the big picture is for our kids, should be such a big area of imported skills."

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