In what might be a case of too little, too late, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced that she will try to reform a controversial immigration law which has allowed tens of thousands of totally unqualified immigrants to enter her country under false pretenses.
The so-called “457 visa” was designed to attract skilled workers into Australia, but has been used mainly by unskilled workers from Asia to enter the country.
Gillard said that employers were abusing their right to attract highly skilled workers under the simplified scheme, and under the guise of IT and medical staff, unqualified people enter the country to work as security guards, service industry workers, and so on, thus taking away jobs from the local population.
As a result, the Australian government is now considering abolishing the program, according to Australian media.
According to Australia’s Department of Immigration, at least 80,000 people have entered the country through the program, but only a tiny handful are actually working in the careers indicated on their application forms.
Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor confirmed the trend, saying that the government would do its best to rectify the situation where foreign workers are taking non-skilled jobs.
“There are times when Australian workers are discriminated against due to the abuse of the program. Employers knowingly hire people from other countries, not giving a chance to the locals,” he said.
Australian trade unions are also in favor of tougher immigration laws. Dave Oliver from the Australian Council of Trade Unions said that last year, the number of available jobs in the construction sector fell by 70,000, but that there had been a 40 percent growth in the number of visas (457 ) issued. Most of the visa recipients ended up working in the building sector as laborers.
The tighter measures adopted in July of 2012 (which made confirmation of English skills and a mandatory two-year period of full-time employment) have not made any change to the situation.
Former One Nation party leader Pauline Hanson has indicated that she intends to return to active politics after a period of retirement.
When One Nation was at its height, it received nearly a quarter of the vote in many areas of Australia, but was undone when Hanson was falsely railroaded into prison, accused of electoral fraud.
After serving time in prison, Hanson was able to prove that the allegations themselves were fraudulent, and she was released and pardoned—but by then the One Nation party had collapsed.
Hanson became best known for warning about nonwhite immigration into Australia, a position from which she has never retreated.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2009 China became the main provider of legal immigrants.
That year, 8,151 Chinese and 7,739 Indians legally entered the country, while migrants from the UK and New Zealand amounted to 4,282 and 3,696, respectively.
They were followed by immigrants from Sri Lanka (2,484), the Philippines (2,112), Malaysia (1,638), South Africa (1,477), and Vietnam (1,347).