India voices concern over Australia's change in visa programme

"We are an immigration nation, but the fact remains: Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs, so we are abolishing the 457 visa", Turnbull had said about three weeks ago, when he first announced his decision to scrap the visa program that allowed Australian businesses to hire foreign workers for a period of four years.

The relevant fees would also be increased to 3 percent of the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold for each year the visa is in place, Labor explained, which will result in a AU$1,617 annual charge.

Mr Shorten outlined the policy proposals in a business speech on Wednesday. An Australian Broadcasting Corporation report earlier said that the majority of the visa holders under the 457 category were from India, accounting nearly a quarter of the intake, followed by the United Kingdom and China at 19.5 per cent and 5.8 per cent respectively.

Australia has backed Washington in calling on Beijing to bring the rogue state to heel, although several former senior Australian diplomats have also urged Canberra to rethink ties with the U.S. in light of China's rise.

The move is aimed to tackle the growing unemployment rate in the country.

"Is it unreasonable to say that people should have a competent understanding and ability to read and write and speak English to become an Australian citizen?" he told SBS News in an exclusive interview.

Draw It Yourself: See the full interactive quiz about how the economy has performed under the Coalition.

The SMART visa will be good for four years and will be wrapped with appropriate salary safeguards, Labor said.

"This is a strong price signal to employers that they should be looking for local workers first". The Turnbull government has also promised a greater focus on skills training as part of its new visa plans.

"It's a great event that we're both attending".

Similarly, Labor would introduce a new Science, High Tech, and Research visa that would allow Australian workers in the tech industry to "collaborate" with overseas counterparts.

A new, independent Australian Skills Authority will take charge of labour market testing and create a single skills shortage occupations list, while the current Ministerial Advisory Committee on Skilled Migration be abolished.

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