by Keagan Elder
AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's announcement earlier in the week he was scrapping the 457 visa program has caused a stir in farming industries.
NSW Farmers board member Paul Shoker said he was disappointed by the lack of consultation and the delivery of the policy change, announced on Facebook on Tuesday.
Mr Shoker said workers on 457 visas had played a vital role in covering skill shortages within farming.
"While we would prefer to have local workers, it is not possible all the time,” he said.
"There is a proven shortage of skills.”
Mr Shoker said skilled positions ebbed and flowed in accordance to seasons, so it was not always possible to immediately employ Australians.
He said the agricultural industry was partly to blame as there was not enough promotion.
Mr Shoker said more was needed to be done to encourage would-be farm workers to remain in the regions by showcasing the possibilities, adding that not every farm job was "back-breaking work”, including the roles of mechanics and agronomists.
Mr Shoker said robotics would also play a major part in farming in the future, opening further options for skilled workers.
Mr Turnbull trumpeted the visa program change as putting Australian workers first.
"We will no longer allow 457 visas to be passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians,” MrTurnbull said.
The 457 visa replacement program will cut almost 200jobs previously covered by 457 visa job demand.
Federal MP for Page Kevin Hogan echoed the sentiment of the Prime Minister and said Australians must be given priority for jobs.
"Foreign workers add value to our nation and our local community, but that can't come at the expense of Australian workers,” MrHogan said.
Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker said the visa policy change would couple well with the changes to citizenship requirements and increase public confidence in Australia's immigration and visa systems.
According to the Department of Immigration's latest figures, there are about 209 people holding subclass 457 visas in postcodes covering the Cowper electorate.