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Published on May 1st, 2012 | by john.weir

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Australian politicians urge easing of 457 visa limitations

Opposition leader Tony Abbott wants more immigrants from countries like the Uk to help drive Australia’s economy.

Defying union concerns and accusing the Gillard government of not having the best immigration policy for Australia, the Opposition Leader wants to lift the limits on 457 visas granted to skilled workers for temporary work for up to four years.Mr Abbott says workers on 457 visas are “the best immigrants”, who contribute immediately to the economy and provide the best long-term workers when they convert their visas to permanent residency. The current skilled migrant intake is 125,850 people.

“Provided they are paid the same wages and provided there aren’t Australians who could readily fill these jobs, businesses should be able to bring in the workers they need to keep growing, and create more local jobs,” Mr Abbott will say in a speech to be delivered today.

“A stronger economy is in everyone’s interests; immigrants who contribute to a stronger economy improve the life of every Australian.

“Under a Coalition government, section 457 visas won’t be just a component, but a mainstay of our immigration program.

“For the Coalition, the issue has never been whether or not Australia should have a strong migration program.

“It’s always been what’s the best migration program for our country at this time and what can best be done to help migrants to settle quickly into their new life.”

The proposal to allow more 457 visas comes against a backdrop of union concerns that the Gillard government is going to increase business and skilled immigration in the budget to address bottlenecks in industry created by skills shortages.

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