The federal government will abolish 457 visas for skilled foreign workers, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced.
The visa class – along with 417 backbacker visas – is heavily relied upon by some businesses in the Murraylands’ food processing industry.
In a video posted on Facebook, the PM said the changes would be about putting Australians first.
“Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs,” he said.
“We’ll no longer allow 457 visas to be passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians.”
We are an immigration nation, but the fact remains: Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs. So we're abolishing ... the visas that bring temporary foreign workers into our country.Malcolm Turnbull
A new class of temporary visa will be introduced to allow employers to find the skilled workers they need.
The new visa will be subject to work experience and English language tests for workers, and labour market testing to prove jobs can not be filled locally.
The nuts and bolts of the policy behind the announcement have not yet been made public, but One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has already claimed credit for the changes.
Companies such as Thomas Foods International and Costa Adelaide Mushrooms have defended their dependence on foreign workers in the face of criticism from some local residents, including at a forum in Murray Bridge during the last federal election campaign.
As well as putting some job seekers offside, a parliamentary enquiry last year found the visa system left foreign workers open to exploitation, and that many were being underpaid or otherwise taken advantage of as a result.
The 457 visa program allows skilled migrant workers who are sponsored by an employer, and who fill an area of need, to live in Australia for up to four years.