Aussies first as 457 scrapped

"It will be replaced by a new system that will be manifestly, rigorously, resolutely conducted in the national interest to put Australians and Australian jobs first", Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Tuesday. "We want people who abide by our laws and our values and we should expect nothing less", Dutton said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced this week plans to abolish the 457 visa programme, which is used to hire foreign workers in the restaurant, IT and medical industries. "Are they employing mature aged workers who have found themselves out of a job elsewhere?" he said on the Nine Network.

"I reckon if we went out today and said to Australians, 'Do you think you could become an Australian citizen without being able to speak English?' They'd say, 'You're kidding".

The citizenship test will have "new and more meaningful questions" about an applicant's understanding of and commitment to Australia's shared values and responsibilities.

Some businesses and workers have criticised scrapping the visas. "These fundamental values are what make us Australian". "We're putting jobs first, and we're putting Australians first".

Media reported that a foreign worker tax on companies to fund skills training for local staff could also be introduced in the annual budget in May.

The 457 visa program was designed for Australian or overseas employers to sponsor skilled overseas workers to work in the country temporarily.

Candidates for citizenship will be required to be permanent residents for four years against the current one-year period.

"Taking the Mickey out of ourselves #AustralianValues", one user tweeted, while another added: "I remember a time when a key Australian value was abhorrence for the pompous, self righteous, sanctimonious expression of national values".

In Australia, the number of jobs eligible for temporary working visas has been dropped, with 216 occupations cut from 651 professions previously eligible for a 457 visa. The highest proportion of foreign workers came from India (24.6 per cent), the United Kingdom (19.5 per cent) and China (5.8 per cent).

Instead of the 457 visas, a new temporary visa will be implemented which will be specifically created to "recruit the best and brightest" in their fields to target particular skill shortages in Australian industries.

The standard of the English language test has also been raised under the new reform that is seen as the Turnbull government's move to toughen the immigration programme.

  • Leroy Wright