Australian opposition party pushes visa priority policy

The current Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, has pledged that, as prime minister, his party would make an Australia visa programme which prioritises skilled workers the cornerstone of a coalition government's immigration agenda. Mr Abbott has said an Australia visa programme which maximises skilled migrants would be essential to a coalition government. The opposition leader has outlined the majority of the coalition party's policy on migration and, while his views on illegal immigration remain particularly stern, Mr Abbott says the current government has made it harder for skilled foreign migrants to enter Australia on a 457 visa. "These are the best possible immigrants for Australia. They make a contribution from day one. From day one, they are immersed in the Australian way of life," Mr Abbott says. "They also help Australian businesses to make the most of their economic opportunities to build a prosperity which every Australian participates in." The 457 visa programme, brought in under the last Liberal prime minister, John Howard, has been hailed by Mr Abbott as one of the Howard government's 'most significant innovations' yet one which has been hampered by the current Labour government's 'buckling to unions' pushing for greater prioritisation placed on Australian workers. As Australia's economy continues to expand due to the ongoing construction and mining boom, concern over skills shortages has grown within Australia. As opportunities for highly paid work in mines and on construction projects increase, further gaps are opened in other industries by Australians leaving their old positions. Australia's largest trades union has warned the federal government that immigration was not addressing the problem and called for greater control over incoming migrants' eventual destinations. Mr Abbott claims checks under the Howard government provided greater control to the federal government and, under a coalition government, the 457 programme would be used to continue to strengthen Australia's economy. "Under Howard, Australians were confident in a way they weren't before or since that the Australian government was in charge and that more or less everyone was pulling their weight. "A stronger economy is in everyone's interests; immigrants who contribute to a stronger economy improve the life of every Australia. "Under a coalition government, section 457 visas won't be just a component but a mainstay of our immigration programme."

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