By political reporter Stephanie Anderson
The list of jobs that overseas workers can fill under the 457 visa program is set to be cut by the Australian Government.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has indicated the Government will cut the list of occupations for which skilled migrant visas are available.
It follows a push from the Opposition for greater restrictions.
Mr Dutton told Sky News that the list — which includes more than 650 occupations — is currently being reviewed.
“I think the list at the moment is expansive and I think we’ll condense it and that work has already been underway for some time and we’ll have a look at that very soon,” he said.
But Mr Dutton defended the program, highlighting its use outside major cities.
“It is very hard to get people in regional areas,” he said.
Opposition spokesman for employment Brendan O’Connor told the ABC the use of the visa was hurting Australian workers.
“Too often we’re seeing exploitation, abuse and the overuse and misuse of that visa means downward pressure on wages,” he said.
“That’s why we have almost a wage recession in this country.”
The list includes occupations such as teachers and journalists, professions which have both experienced oversupply in labour.
But they are not among the professions with the highest rates of workers with 457 visas.
According to the Immigration Department, cooks were the most popular profession applied for by primary visa holders — those who directly applied for a 457 visa — followed by those wanting to fill cafe/restaurant manager positions.