Finance Work Visa ‘abolition’ affects less than 10 per cent of migrants

Visa ‘abolition’ affects less than 10 per cent of migrants

construction worker
Foreign construction workers can still come in, but goat farmers are out. Photo: Getty
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The government’s changes to temporary migration would, if they’d been in place last quarter, have barred less than a tenth of visa-holders from entering Australia, according to analysis by Labor and confirmed by The New Daily.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced on Tuesday the Coalition had, with immediate effect, “abolished” the 457 visa class.

He made much of the fact that its two replacements, a “short-term” two-year visa and a “medium-term” four-year visa, would have far fewer eligible occupations.

Indeed, the government slashed, effective Tuesday, the total list of occupations from a bloated 651 to a trimmer 435, with 268 jobs eligible for the short-term visa and 167 for the medium-term visa.

“This is a very substantial reduction in the list of skills that qualify for these visas,” Mr Turnbull said.

The problem though, identified by Labor based on publicly available data, is that 200 of the 216 occupations removed from the list were among the least popular. (The remaining 16 were shifted to other visa classes).

The 200 jobs removed altogether accounted for only 8.6 per cent of visa-holders in October-December 2016. And this number hovered around 9 per cent in the three previous quarters as well.

As the official data shows, the government refused to touch any of the five most popular occupations by visa-holders: cooks (6398 visas granted in Q4 2016), cafe or restaurant managers (4714), chefs (2923), marketing specialists (2584) and developer programmers (2239).

In fact, none of the 29 most popular occupations was removed.

Instead, the government has picked easy targets. For example, 18 fully removed occupations had never been used in the last decade, including turf growers, deer farmers, homeopaths and detectives.

Another 46 removed jobs had not been granted a visa once in the last year, including antique dealers, futures traders, park rangers, blacksmiths, gunsmiths, saw makers and repairers, sail makers, shoe makers, funeral directors and golfers.

Other rarely used occupations that the government has slashed: actors, archaeologists, boarding kennel operators, cinema managers, dental hygienists, pilots, tailors, fire fighters, flying instructors, goat farmers, gunsmiths, intelligence officers, leather goods makers, music directors, police officers and sports umpires.

Labor leader Bill Shorten described the changes on Wednesday as “cosmetic” and a “shifting of deck chairs on the proverbial ship”.

“His announcement of a crackdown, well, it’s more like a con-job if you look at the fine print.”

See the full occupation changes for yourself:

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