A bitter struggle blew up between Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott over the temporary workers issue.
In an effort to increase her popularity, the Prime Minister announced special restrictions on the immigration program, known as “457 visa program”, which allows employers to bring qualified staff from abroad in case they cannot fill these positions with Australian workers.
“Many employers exploited this program to hire guest qualified workers from abroad in order to have low labor costs, despite the fact that they could fill these positions with Australians,” Gillard said and promised that in the future “employers will occupy foreign workers only if they cannot find local staff. ”
This statement caused Abbott’s negative reaction, who accused her “of demonizing foreign workers”. “These people come to Australia legally and contribute to the development of our economy in a positive way,” Abbott said.
According to official data, during 2011-2012 Australia received 125,700 temporary workers with the “457 visa program” and many employers object to the restrictive measures taken by the government claiming that this could be a blow to Australian economy.