EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT: SCRAPPING 457 VISAS

The government will scrap 457 visas and replace the maligned visa category with a system Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promises will put Australian workers first. According to the Facebook video announcement, the temporary skilled work visas will be overhauled:

  • The new working visa will have two- and four-year categories, and workers will be required to have two years’ experience and undergo criminal record checks. Employers will need to do labour market testing in Australia before applying to sponsor overseas workers. The four-year category will have tighter criteria and a “higher standard” of English language skills;
  • More than 216 occupations have been removed from the list of eligible occupations for temporary work visas, including goat farmers and turf growers. Nurses and cooks have not been removed from the list;
  • The Australian reports that businesses that want to bring in workers from overseas will need to pay a “foreign worker tax”;
  • Unsurprisingly, the technology sector has been loudest in its opposition to the changes. Atlassian boss Mike Cannon-Brookes has already criticised the changes;
  • Both One Nation leader Pauline Hanson and now independent Senator Cory Bernardi have claimed credit for the changes;
  • So far Labor has labelled the changes a “distraction” from Turnbull’s own performance, although industry spokesperson Kim Carr was not completely critical on ABC Radio Melbourne yesterday. While the government focused on its own actions yesterday, you can expect this to become a new angle in the concerted line of attack against Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Before yesterday’s announcement the government dropped figures to News Corp papers measuring how many 457 visas were issued during the time Shorten was employment minister; and
  • This graphic on SBS shows which industries employ the most people on 457 visas.

MAY’S DAY: BRITISH PM CALLS SNAP ELECTION

Brits will almost certainly head to the polls for the second time in a year after Prime Minister Theresa May announced a snap election for June 8. May needs support from two-thirds of the members of the House of Commons in order to bring forward the scheduled 2020 election to this year. Despite grumbles from his colleagues in at-risk seats, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has indicated his party will support the motion.

In backing away from a commitment not to call an early election, May emphasised the need for “certainty, stability, and strong leadership”. She was no doubt also encouraged by recent polls putting her Conservative Party as far as 21 points ahead of Labour. Sources from her office have indicated she will not take part in televised debates.

How do the British public feel about all this? One woman’s viral response may hold some clues.

SHE REALLY SAID THAT

“I can’t see Kim Jong-un, from what I have heard and seen and read of him … willingly giving up his nuclear program, because he sees that as a deterrence against the United States. He needs to be convinced … and I believe China is the key.” — Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in some of her most direct comments on the rising tensions between North Korea and the US, and the role China needs to play in heading off the possibility of nuclear war.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra: The PM will meet with gas industry bosses to discuss supply shortages.

Sydney: The Senate inquiry into the Centrelink robo-debt debacle will hold a hearing in Sydney today.

High Court: The High Court of Australia will consider the results of the recount ordered after former Family First senator Bob Day was ruled ineligible for election. It’s expected that he will be replaced by Family First’s Lucy Gichuhi.

Darwin: The Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory will hold hearings today. 

Cape Canaveral, Florida: A satellite built by students at the University of Adelaide will be launched by NASA on the Atlas V rocket bound for the International Space Station.

Canberra: Deputy Nationals leader Fiona Nash will address the National Press Club.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Towards a safer online world for Australians at every level — Malcolm Turnbull (The Australian $): “The census was taken offline on census night because basic protections had not been put in place. The Russian hacking that sought to interfere in the recent US election again took place because security at various political servers had been inadequate. More and more sophisticated attempts to penetrate our computer networks and systems are being perpetrated all the time.”

There is a big hole in Malcolm Turnbull’s 457 visa plan Joanna Howe (Sydney Morning Herald): “The core problem which has dogged the 457 visa is being carried over to the government’s new system – employer-conducted labour market testing.”

Malcolm Turnbull’s 457 visa crackdown shifts politics and moves the economy — Laura Tingle (Australian Financial Review $): “The largest contribution to net overseas migration in recent years has been from people on temporary visas. So the impact of the decision to close off this stepping stone from temporary to permanent residency will be profound.”

457 visa scheme had more holes than Swiss cheese — Judith Sloan (The Australian $): “Let’s face it, 457 visas have been used ruthlessly by employers ­because it suited them. These workers are compliant and can be paid less, particularly by inflating accommodation costs.”

A universal age pension is a win for younger generations too — Caitlin Fitzsimmons (The Age): “Whether reducing tax incentives for older people could fully fund a universal pension is debated by experts. Podger says the argument is “respectable” and one he used to support, but he recently decided it’s too expensive.” 

THE WORLD

A US aircraft carrier that White House officials said was heading towards North Korea — inflaming fears of a pre-emptive strike by America — was not in fact heading to North Korea. A series of miscommunications and mistakes in public statements fuelled stories of a US “armada” heading to the peninsula when the USS Carl Vinson was in fact sailing to join the Australian Navy in the Indian Ocean for training exercises. The carrier will now head north, however, and is expected to arrive off the Korean Peninsula next week. — New York Times

A Human Rights Watch investigation has found a US strike targeting al-Queda fighters in Syria destroyed a mosque where civilians had assembled for worship. Lead researcher Ole Solvang said the US military had not realised the building was a mosque while the report said subsequent missiles had been fired on those fleeing the building after it was bombed. — Al Jazeera

Two men have been arrested in France in relation to an “imminent and violent” attack just days before the country heads to the polls for the first round of its presidential election. Explosives were found in an apartment in Marseille, and the French Interior Minister said a “definite terrorist attack” had been prevented. Campaign officials from three leading candidates told Reuters they had been warned of a security risk by the French intelligence agency. — Reuters

WHAT WE’RE READING

Theresa May’s great political game (Prospect): “If everything goes her way, we could be looking at a 1935 or even a 1931 position, where parliament came close to being a mini-one party Conservative state … The opposition certainly isn’t going to get in her way. Labour is, as now almost goes without saying, in an appalling condition.”

Selling Mark Zuckerberg (Buzzfeed): “The Facebook CEO’s likability blitz isn’t a presidential campaign, it’s a focus group for his 1.8 billion constituents — and part of a high stakes campaign to win your likes.”

Fairytale prisoner by choice: the photographic eye of Melania Trump (Medium): “Melania Trump is the woman least fit for public service in the entirety of the United States of America. We should expect nothing from her. She’s living inside a dark fairytale, and in fairytales the women trapped in towers never save anyone but themselves.”

How Bill O’Reilly’s scandal exposes a Murdoch family divide (The Hollywood Reporter): “For 86-year-old Rupert, Fox News is a key part of his legacy, as well as the family company’s health: the most profitable news outlet ever ($1.5 billion in profits this year) and among the most influential. For James, 44, and Lachlan, 45, the hope is to reshape this legacy, to move Fox away from what they see as its retro, Trump-style views toward, well, something nicer (and to do this profitably, they hope, somehow).”  

Unpacking China’s curious ‘Ivanka fever’ (Foreign Policy): “Iwanka re (‘Ivanka fever’) — the fawning admiration in which Ivanka Trump is held among some sectors of Chinese society — matters only to the extent that it is a symptom of the convergence of the kleptocratic, nepotistic trends in Chinese elite circles with the same tendencies in elite circles in the United States. No longer can there be any pretense to a purported distance between ‘their’ so-called crony capitalism and ‘our’ so-called cleaner version …”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

Peter Fray

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