While it is hoped that the recently elected Australian government will make changes to the popular 457 visa programme to reduce the red tape added by the previous administration, ministers have made it clear that they will not stand for abuse.


It is hoped the new government will reduce the red tape added by the previous administration to the popular 457 visa programme​

Discussions have been going on behind the scenes about amendments, most notably to the requirement for what some regard as over onerous labour market testing, but new Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said there will be no leeway in terms of abuse.

In his first speech on the issue since being sworn he has made it clear that employers who abuse the 457 visa programme will be punished as brutally as people smugglers. He said that industry and employers needed to make sure the scheme is not abused.

'While you hear me say very clearly the Coalition government under Tony Abbott is supportive of skilled migration, and has been consistent through various attacks particularly from the previous government when we were in opposition, I say this: if you abuse it then you can expect me in my first responsibility for law enforcement in immigration to be as tough on that as people smugglers find that I will be tough on our borders,' he explained.

'Because I know if the 457 programme is abused it will be undermined and its critical value to Australia will be diminished,' he added.

The 457 visas have been a mainstay of the skilled migration programme since its inception in 1996 but it yet to be confirmed if the government would repeal the changes made by the Labour government.

Morrison pointed out that there is a difference between 'heavy handed regulation and red tape that stifles business productivity, ingenuity and creativity, which is how I would have characterised the laws the former government brought in earlier this year'.

He hinted that he supports the idea of a 'golden ticket' visa scheme targeting wealthy foreign investors from China, India and the Middle East as part of a plan to attract billions of dollars of overseas investment into projects that would stimulate the economy.

The significant investor visa scheme that was launched at the end of 2012 under the previous government saw 453 expressions of interest after it was launched but it took six months for the first visa under the significant investor visa scheme to be granted.

Morrison said this was too slow and he was concerned that potential foreign investors have started looking elsewhere. 'Effectively, what I'm saying is this programme needs to be rebooted,' he added.