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Opposition slams immigration visa reform

Opposition slams immigration visa reform

Businesses and the Coalition have hit out against planned changes to the 457 immigration visa system proposed by the government.

In what will be a crackdown on the system in order to weed out the system abusers, language requirements will be lifted and employers will have to work harder to prove there is no local employees available.

Immigration and citizenship minister Brendan O'Connor said the 457 program has blown out, when compared with the skills shortages.

He elaborated: "The government has evidence that some employers - and I emphasise that word, some - are using 457 visas to discriminate against locals."

Shadow immigration minister Scott Morrison argued that the government should show evidence of his rorting claims.

"The transfer from minister Bowen to minister O'Connor has effectively seen the portfolio handed over to the unions," Mr Morrison said to The Australian.

The credibility of Mr Morrison's accusations of bowing to union pressure has been strengthened, with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) welcoming the move.

"Today's changes are a great start, and will go some way to ensuring that the 457 visa system is only used for situations where no Australian worker can do the job," said ACTU secretary Dave Oliver.

But the regional and rural sector will be badly hurt by these changes, Nationals senate leader Barnaby Joyce explained to Fairfax.

Mr Joyce highlighted abattoirs as an industry that is heavily reliant on foreign workers - mainly because local workers aren't willing to fill the positions.

"The reality is that there are places in Australia that people in western Sydney don't want to move to, and there are jobs they don't want to do," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Nimrod Resources chairman Keith DeLacy explained that this is just a move by the government to play into its Labor base with an anti-business campaign. Confidence, investment and economic growth, job creation and incomes will all be hurt by this apparent election campaign issue, Mr DeLacy said to The Australian.

Another mining veteran told News Limited that this just presents more red tape, as the burden of proof is higher and when a business employs thousands, the last thing that a company needs is more hoops to jump through.

"There is no evidence this program [457 visa system] is being used as a gateway to permanent residency. That's a scare campaign," said chief executive of Australian Mines and Metals Association Steve Knott.

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