Melbourne: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Monday backed a recent crackdown on alleged abuse of foreign temporary work visas, saying that the changes in visa scheme would get the “out of control" system back on track.

Under the 457 visa scheme, Australian employers can sponsor qualified overseas workers to the fill nominated positions for up to four-years, if the vacancy cannot be filled locally. When asked about the government’s recent crackdown on alleged abuse of foreign temporary work visas, including reducing the number of applications that can be made under the scheme and requiring businesses to demonstrate a genuine skill shortage in their area of operations, Gillard said Australian workers should come first.

“We inherited from the previous government a 457 temporary foreign worker visa programme that was totally out of control, and every step of the way we have been putting in place new conditions to crack down on the rorts," Gillard said in Eastern Creek in Sydney.

“We have done that in the past and we will continue to crack down as necessary," Gillard said. “I understand there can be legitimate skill shortages where businesses need to source labour from overseas, but I also understand that there are too many times when people have got the skills to get the job and they don’t get the job," she said. “In those circumstances I want to make sure that Australian workers are coming first," she added.

Recently, the federal government announced cracking down on overseas workers by tightening skilled worker 457 visa programme. It was argued by the government that dubious applications for overseas worker visas were approved as rules prevented officials from investigating their suspicions. Immigration minister Brendan O’Connor said that the scheme was misused by unscrupulous employers. The changes to the 457 visa included, extra investigation powers for inspectors to get information from bosses they suspect of being dodgy and a new test to prove jobs were for “genuine" skills shortages because some employers were creating positions that were really “unskilled and possibly not even a real job". PTI