The Federal Government has denied union claims that skilled migrants are pushing Australians out of jobs, with figures showing a big fall in the number of 457 visa holders currently working in WA.
The West Australian, by Grant Taylor, 22 April 2015
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union wants the 457 program to be wound back to create more opportunities for local workers affected by rising unemployment caused by the mining slowdown.
But Assistant Immigration Minister Michaelia Cash said the reality was that foreign workers were often the first to be cut as shown by the 15 per cent decrease in the number of 457 visa holders this financial year.
"The coalition Government is committed to ensuring that the subclass 457 program acts as a supplement to - and not a substitute for - Australian workers," she said.
Celebrity chef and Rockpool owner Neil Perry said his eight Australian restaurants would not survive without foreign workers because of the acute skills shortage in the ever-expanding tourism and hospitality sector.
"There are a lot of fantastic Australians who are working as chefs and waiters or sommeliers who are at the very top of their game, but the reality is there are just not enough of them," he said.
"What we have to get over as Australians is that kneejerk reaction that they (skilled foreign workers) are taking our jobs. None of that is true."
Perry estimated that about 10 per cent of his 700-strong national workforce was employed on 457 visas.
Senator Cash said the Government was working on changes to the 457 program that would ensure more money was spent on training Australians in industries where skill shortages existed.