You’ve probably heard by now that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently announced changes to the 457 visa scheme in the hopes of preventing holders of the popular working visa from occupying jobs that could be done by Australians. You may be wondering what these changes mean to the trucking industry.
Prime Minister Turnbull announced the changes via social media recently,
“We will no longer allow 457 visas to be passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians,” he said in a video posted.
Truck driving will no longer be a listed occupation for 457 visa holders and it also isn’t for the new replacement scheme, so far.
At this point truck drivers may not have their jobs affected directly, however there are other road transport industry groups questioning whether the inclusion of heavy vehicle operation with the occupation list for the new visa could address the skilled driver shortage.
More stringent conditions will apply for the replacement visa and will be first issued for 2 years temporarily aimed at recruiting the highest skilled workers possible, followed by a second four year visa that can be applied for if higher English skills are met. A criminal check will also have to be passed.
More than 200 occupations have been cut from the qualifying list of occupations, which could make things a lot more competitive.
Currently there are 95,000 migrants working under 457 Visas and they will not be affected. They are able to apply for permanent residency at the end of their 4 year visa program.
It has been long argued by the Transport Workers Union (TWU) that truck driving should not be an eligible occupation under the 457 visa scheme. The TWU assistant national secretary Michael Kaine said it was still early to make comments on what this change would mean for the trucking industry’s future. He said he was happy the visa issue was addressed.
“The TWU has never been an opponent of appropriate skilled migration but the 457 system and other visa rorts have allowed companies to undermine acceptable conditions and wages by exploiting workers from overseas,”
“While we think this is welcome news, the union will continue to fight to ensure the Government is properly overseeing visa programs to stop transport companies from engaging in a race-to-the-bottom.” Kaine said.
The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) chief of staff Bill McKinley said that while the 457 visa and its replacement don’t include truck drivers, there are other labour agreements that do which will continue to operate.
“It is currently possible to bring truck drivers into Australia under labour agreements where appropriate, and these proved invaluable for employers in regional areas during the mining investment boom,” McKinley says.
The announcement “makes it clear that these regional arrangements can continue where required”, he stated