Questions in Tasmania over 457 visa scraping

Tasmanian Hospitality Association general manager Steve Old
Tasmanian Hospitality Association general manager Steve Old

Tasmanian industries are still trying to figure out how the government’s plan to axe the 457 scheme will affect them.

Though any impact is likely to be minimal statewide with just 520 workers on the visas applying to work in Tasmania in 2015-16 – representing 0.6 of applications nationwide.

Most of the applicants worked in the medical and hospitality fields.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Monday afternoon announced that the 457 visa scheme for workers would be scrapped in favour of two new temporary visas which were more specifically designed to attract needed skilled workers.

He said the proposal prioritised Australian nationals in filling job vacancies.

Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Michael Bailey said the notion of 457 visas was to encourage immigrants to the country with required skills.

“We’ll see greater pressure on doctors in regional areas, nursing staff across some of the aged care sectors, and also in the agricultural industry,” he said.

Premier Will Hodgman said while the government was seeking advice on how it would affect state industries, he understood it would not impact overseas-trained doctors.

He said an itinerant workforce was important to plug gaps in regional parts of Tasmania which were experiencing growth.

Mr Hodgman said he didn't believe it would impact the state government's population strategy of reaching 650,000 people by 2050.

Tasmanian Hospitality Association general manager Steve Old said he believed much-needed chefs and cooks should be quarantined from the changes.

“There are a few ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ that are worrying us at this stage though,” he said.

Mr Old said the decision needed to be complemented with more industry skills funding from the federal government to train and educate workers.

Lyons Labor MHR Brian Mitchell said employers in regional Tasmania relied on skilled migrants as locals were not equipped to fill the roles.

He said the government now needed to ensure locals were equipped through increased training and qualifications funding and more apprenticeship vacancies.

Bass Labor MHR Ross Hart said the federal government had overseen a decline of 130,000 apprenticeships.

“Cooks, bakers, mechanics and florists from overseas will still be coming from overseas to do jobs that Australians should be doing,” he said.

The average salary for someone working in Tasmania on a 457 visa in 2015-16 was $89,100.

Resident medical officers, university lecturers, medical practitioners, general practitioners, and cooks and chefs were the most favoured professions.

One-third of people in Tasmania on 457 visas either came from the United Kingdom, Malaysia or India.

There were 85,610 people that applied to work in Australia on 457 visas in 2015-16.

40 per cent of applicants went to New South Wales for work and 25 per cent to Victoria.

Nationally, people were most hired in the areas of information-technology, scientific services, and hospitality.