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A report commissioned by global specialist recruiter Hydrogen, titled Global Professionals on the Move 2013, contains information that will be of some interest to migration agents in Australia. It reveals that skilled migrants regard Australia as one of the top countries to relocate to. Similarities between the United Kingdom or United States and Australia in terms of professional demands, as well as our activity-packed outdoor lifestyle, were all factors that helped our country gain a third-place ranking.

However, this ranking could change if the government maintains its current stance on 457 visas. Labour has been discussing a number of measures in recent weeks to limit the number of migrants entering Australia. Such measures have been met with disapprobation by Scott Morrison, shadow minister for immigration and citizenship, who has made it clear that he believes Labour’s vendetta against those wishing to apply for migration visas will prevent professionals with much-needed skills from entering the country.

According to The Australian, there are currently around 105,000 skilled foreign workers in Australia on 457 visas; however, immigration minister Brendan O’Connor notoriously announced that “over 10,000” of these had rorted the system and were using 457 visas illegitimately.
Unions – such as the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) – have also been advocating more stringent controls on the program, which Julia Gillard reportedly called “out of control”.

However, recent research conducted by Migration Council Australia, titled More Than Temporary: Australia’s 457 Visa Program, has demonstrated that the 457 visa program is not as “out of control” as Labour would have us think. Commenting on the report, Ms Carla Wilshire, chief executive officer of Migration Council Australia, stated that only two per cent of those currently using 457 immigration visas said that they had incomes of “less than the threshold income set by regulation”. While two per cent is still too many, these findings should certainly quash some of Mr O’Connor’s fears about rorters.

Michael Easson, chairman of the ministerial advisory council on skilled migration, told The Australian that “we need to keep nailing down the loose planks, not ripping up the floorboards” when it comes to the 457 program. In other words, he thinks that there is definitely room for improvement in the system, but that it doesn’t need to be completely overhauled. Only time will tell how this 457 saga will play out and if it will impact Australia’s current ranking as one of the top three destinations for skilled migrant workers.

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