The Australian Greens have announced that they will move to establish a Senate inquiry into the government's 457 visa changes when parliament returns for the Budget in May.
"If Australia is going to attract the type of expertise, intelligence and experience that we need, we have to engage with our region and the wider international community," the Greens' finance and trade spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.
"This Senate inquiry will look into how the government's move will hurt in the wrong areas, while leaving those sectors where exploitation of workers has been a concern relatively untouched.
"I am particularly concerned that the biggest impact of the government's move is the unfair ban on permanent residency while, with a nod-and-wink, allowing some businesses to continue exploiting workers through constant temporary work visas.
"Since the government's announcement, the focus has been on the workers rather than the corporations who have been exploiting the temporary work visa under free trade agreements.
"To stride confidently into the global future, we will need to attract and retain the best and brightest minds to our innovation, IT and education sectors. That can only be achieved through careful consideration of policy, not sloganeering and jingoistic hyperbole."
The inquiry would be referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment.
"This inquiry will help to untangle some of the mess that was made when Malcolm Turnbull decided to use the cheap politics of racism and crass anti-migrant sentiment to appease the conservative rump of his own party," Senator Hanson-Young said.
"The inquiry will also look at whether free trade agreements should be renegotiated so that any legitimate changes needed could cover other visa classes.
"When only one in four working visa holders are under 457s and free trade deals prohibit labour market testing, it seems the Prime Minister is more interested in peddling dangerous nationalism than fixing our labour market and finding job opportunities for young Australians.
"If Malcolm Turnbull was genuine about reforming the working visa system he would be looking at other visa classes, including Section 400 visas
"We should be able to improve our foreign worker visa programs, including 457s, without braying 'Australia First' and waving the nationalistic flag of isolationism.
"The Greens are urging Labor and the crossbench to support this inquiry, which I will be putting to the parliament on the first day back next month."
Media contact: Amy Moran 0427 604 760