Australia is to axe its 457 work visa, the country's Prime Minister announced this morning.
Taking to Facebook, Malcolm Turnball said he was "putting jobs first" by scrapping the four-year temporary work visa.
"We are an immigration nation but, the fact remains, Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs," he said in a video. "So we’re abolishing the 457 visas – the visas that bring temporary foreign workers into our country."
Turnbull said the 457 visas will no longer be “passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians”.
A total of 23,205 Irish citizens were in Australia on temporary visas on June 30th 2015, while current holders will be unaffected by the move. Just under 2,000 temporary visas were granted to Irish citizens between 2015 and 2016, excluding secondary applications.
What will it be replaced with?
However, stressing the importance of temporary work visas for businesses seeking skilled workers, Turnbull announced plans to replace the visa with a new model.
"It’s important that businesses still get access to the skills they need to grow and invest. So the 457 visa will be replaced by a new temporary visa specifically designed to recruit the best and the brightest in the national interest.”
As well as that, a new training fund to help Australians fill skills gaps will be introduced, with the new four-year visa will also result in fewer permanent residents because of the eligibility changes.
The news has been met with a mixed response on social media, with many quickly pointing out that Turnbull previously criticised former Prime Minister Julia Gillard efforts to reform the system.
— Kiera (@KieraGorden) April 18, 2017
Head of Marketing Effectiveness at Nielsen's Australian division John Price said Turnbull's decision had "royally screwed" the technology sector.
Malcolm Turnbull just royally screwed our technology sector - the one he said we should invest in. #457visas
— John Price (@PriceyJohnDoe) April 18, 2017
Elsewhere, others praised the potential change of direction, suggesting the public had "lost confidence" in the policy.
Keen to see detail of what replaces #457visas - it's clear enough the public has lost confidence in them so good to rebirth
— Ben ã€Šâ—‹¿â—‹ã€‹ (@thecattery) April 18, 2017
What is the 457 visa?
Introduced by John Howard's government in 1996, the 457 visa has been the most common way for employers to bring skilled workers into Australia temporarily. The 457 usually requires sponsorship by an employer.
The number of visas issued is uncapped, and reached a peak of 126,000 in 2012-13 under the Gillard-Rudd Labor government. Last financial year that had fallen to 96,000.
There have been long-running concerns over exploitation of 457 visa holders – who depend on their employer to remain in Australia – and over labour market testing.