457 Visa Report Strikes the Right Balance

"The Robust New Foundations: A Streamlined, Transparent and Responsive System for the 457 Programme report should make the scheme more effective in filling critical skills shortages and growing the economy to the benefit of all Australians," BCA Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said.

"There is a broad consensus on the need for the scheme to enable employers to quickly fill skill shortages while not disadvantaging Australian workers.

"The review panel has made strong recommendations for improving the 457 visa program, including by overturning recent ill- conceived changes such as the introduction of labour market testing and higher English language requirements.

"The recommended three-stream approach to evaluating and approving 457 visa applications is an innovative idea that would reduce compliance costs and focus scrutiny where it is most warranted.

"The report has rightly identified that current training benchmarks are not effective, but more consideration is needed before adopting the report's proposal to convert these expenditures into training payments to government. This would add to the cost of employing a 457 visa worker and further disadvantage companies operating in areas most affected by skills shortages.

"The report concludes that concerns about widespread rorting of the scheme are unfounded, with serious non-compliance averaging a little over 1 per cent of all active cases.

"Australian employers prefer to employ people locally for many reasons, including that it is cheaper and easier to do so, but this is not always possible.

"The improvements to the 457 visa program set out in this report would help Australian businesses compete in an increasingly globalised economy, which primarily means new and better job opportunities for Australian workers," Ms Westacott said.

For further information contact:
Matt Newton, Communications Adviser
Business Council of Australia
Telephone (03) 8664 2627 • Mobile 0409 550 578