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Visa Changes May Cost Australia Skilled Workers

Publication Date: 
March 19, 2013
Brisbane Times
Mahesh Sharma

Rock Center Fellow Vivek Wadhwa spoke with the Brisbane Times' Mahesh Sharma about the impact that tighter Australian labor migration rules could have on the county's tech industry. 

Tighter Australian labour migration rules could drive skilled workers to other developed nations, say experts.

Countries such as the US and Germany have recently eased migration policies to replenish an ageing workforce and proponents of imported tech labour believe they could attract the talent otherwise bound for Australia if the political mood swings away from providing 457 visas to the IT industry.

Vivek Wadhwa, author and fellow at Stanford Law School, said Prime Minister Julia Gillard's potential revision of 457 visa policies would cause the Australian government to "snatch defeat from the jaws of victory - again".

"After being recognised worldwide as a destination for smart technologists, [Australia] is reversing course. This is just when its local tech scene is beginning to flourish and when it needs these people the most," said Mr Wadhwa, who extolled the importance of immigration in his book The Immigrant Exodus: Why America is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent.

Mr Wadhwa's family migrated from India to Australia in the '70s but later settled in the US, where he started his first technology business.