Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has suggested that businesses themselves brought on the unexpected changes to skilled working visas this year, saying there had been a ‘rort’ in the system.
In an appearance on the popular ABC television program Q&A on Monday night, Mr Turnbull said that stricter controls were needed on working visas because the 457 visa system had been extensively rorted.
“Could you explain, Prime Minister, why you are allowing approximately 200,000 people to immigrate to this country every year, and are there any plans to limit this intake or will it go on ad infinitum? What is the purpose of this massive intake, which is well above other countries?” the Prime Minister was asked in a question from the show’s website.
“Our immigration program is overwhelmingly skills-based. So, it is driven by the demands in our economy,” Mr Turnbull replied.
“As you have more demand for people with the skills that we need in our economy, then you will get more immigration. If you have less economic…slower economic growth, you’ll get less immigration.
“We’ve taken steps, as you know, to abolish the rorts in the 457 visa class, the temporary migration visa class.”
According to Mr Turnbull, this shake-up of the working visa scheme – which came as a shock to many business leaders around the country when it was abruptly announced in April this year – has been applauded by other governments around the world for its specificity in targeting skills shortages.
“We’re very focused on making sure that we don’t bring in skills from overseas unless there really is a skills shortage in Australia,” he said.
“I have to say, [it] is admired around the world. I’m not sure how popular Donald Trump is in this audience tonight, but he has been heard to speak very positively about our skills-based migration program, as indeed have many other countries’ leaders.”
Business owners have criticised the visa overhaul previously, saying that while the idea of focusing on skilled migration is welcome, the list of qualifying industries and sectors is too narrow, and may contribute to more accute skills shortages in certain sectors.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.