Orange business leaders discuss 457 visa changes

MORE TALK: Orange Business Chamber president Mark Madigan wants the government to consult with small businesses and industry bodies about changes to the 457 visa. Photo: FILE
MORE TALK: Orange Business Chamber president Mark Madigan wants the government to consult with small businesses and industry bodies about changes to the 457 visa. Photo: FILE

THE specific needs of industries should have been considered prior to the decision to abolish the 457 visa, according to Orange business leaders.

The Turnbull government has announced it will replace the visa program with two temporary skills shortage visas, which will impose stricter English language tests and labour market testing and require applicants to have two years of work experience and a police check.

Orange Business Chamber president Mark Madigan said chamber members welcomed consultation from the government.

“The bottom line would be listen to small businesses and industry bodies,” Mr Madigan said.

“All of our members would gladly meet with whichever government department and put forward our case without reservation.”

Mr Madigan said it was difficult to predict the impact of the changes on Orange businesses at this stage.

“It’s a wait and see from what I can gather,” he said.

“We need to talk to our members to see if there are any ramifications.”

Hort Enterprises’ Jeff Hort has employed several people under the 457 visa scheme.

Mr Hort said the scheme was costly for both his business and his employees.

“Would I use it again? No. It was very onerous,” he said.

Mr Hort’s most recent 457 visa employee was a man from Africa, who has financially supported a large family.

The employees’ expenses included higher school fees and medical bills, as they were not an Australian citizen.

“It’s cost him a fortune to put up with the penalties,” he said.

“For them to become Australians is a fortune.”

Mr Hort said the experience gave him a new perspective.

“For someone to come here with intention of becoming Australian citizens, the whole system seems to be unfair,” he said.

“If 457 is meant only to be temporary, it’s not an issue but if a 457 can become a citizen of Australia then I believe the system is unfair and bias against such a move.”