Australia should be proud of its 457 temporary worker visa programme which has thus far been an overwhelming success, it is claimed.

The working of the 457 visa programme has been a political hot potato in the run up to the recent general election, but at its core it works well, according to Carla Wilshire, chief executive officer of the Migration Council of Australia.


The Migration Council report showed that 85% of employers were satisfied with the migration system.​

The 457 has received negative attention, including claims that it was being widely abused by employers to bring in cheaper workers from abroad, and has undergone major changes in recent months with costs rising and labour market testing due to be introduced later this year.

The Migration Council's report 'More Than Temporary: Australia's 457 Visa Programme,' was carried out prior to amendments announced in June and revealed that 85% of employers were satisfied with the migration system.

'On the whole, our studies found that the programme was meeting the needs of both employers and 457 visa holders, and that employer usage generally reflected the policy intention of the program,' Wilshire said.

'It was deliberately designed to respond to skills shortages, but the other function was to connect Australia to international development, and for the most part, employers are using the 457 visa programme as intended,' she explained.

Another key finding from the research showed that out of 3,600 visa holders surveyed, 76% said they helped train other workers, including their Australian counterparts.

'The 457 visa programme has become a critical part of the economic toolkit. In order to secure a foothold in innovation breakthroughs, access new knowledge frameworks and keep abreast of technology in different sectors, we need to have mechanisms that can rapidly connect us to partners and businesses in other parts of the world,' explained Wilshire.

Contrary to some union claims, however, just 2% of respondents said they were being paid at below the threshold dictated by regulation. Wilshire said this simply reflected a greater need to monitor the system, not enforce legislative change.

'The results show the migration system functions well and needs to be constantly monitored, but our results do not show it is out of control. However, if we don't manage our debates on migration very carefully, we risk going down a path that is not healthy for our country or our national interest,' added Wilshire.

As the new Coalition government begins its term in Canberra, the Australian Mines and Metals Association has said it will work with new Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison to restore Australia's skilled migration programme to its former responsible and effective state.