Food and Wellness

Researchers warn of 457 visa decision impact on medical breakthroughs

Researchers warn of 457 visa decision impact on medical breakthroughs

THE medical research community has joined industries cautioning Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over the dangerous impact his decision to abolish and replace 457 visas could have for the country.

The Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI) has warned the government restrictions to be imposed on skilled foreign workers could prevent Australian researchers from developing “the next Gardisil”.

AAMRI president Professor Tony Cunningham says the removal of key medical research roles from the list of eligible occupations for the replacement program for the 457 visa will make it more difficult to recruit the world’s very best medical researchers from overseas, and is calling on the government to clarify its position.

“The skills we are talking about are very specialised, and in some cases, we just don’t have people here with those skills,” he said in a statement.

“Sometimes it’s necessary to recruit a world-class researcher specialising in developing treatments for a particular disease. That person then leads a lab here training Australia, and builds up our capacity to develop new drugs and medical devices.”

Prof Cunningham said he believed in providing opportunities for Australian-trained researchers, but the industry needed to have the flexibility to recruit world-class researchers to stay competitive with other leading science nations.

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“Scientists who have come to Australia to work have made some tremendous discoveries that have benefited both our health and our nation’s wealth. For example, think of the Gardasil (cervical cancer) vaccine created here by virologists of Scottish and Chinese origin in Professor Ian Frazer and Jian Zhou respectively,” he said.

“It would be a real shame if the next Gardasil was discovered elsewhere because the medical research sector was caught up in broader changes to the immigration program.”

AAMRI’s call follows an outcry from the tech industry over the government’s decision to overhaul the foreign working visa program.

Speaking with news.com.au, CEO of IT industry group TechSydney said to cut back on the industry’s ability to bring in expertise from overseas while there was a skills shortage in Australia “will only harm the industry and the future of jobs in this country”.

“I think the key message is not just for the industry but for the country,” he said. “If we don’t work this out, we will fall behind.”

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Mr Turnbull has followed up Tuesday’s 457 announcement with a crackdown on citizenship applications.

To become citizens applicants will now need to have been a permanent resident for four years — up from 12 months now — face a stand-alone English test and commit to embracing Australian values.

The Prime Minister has rejected comparisons between his announcements and moves by US President Donald Trump to restrict tighten foreign worker visas and restrict immigration.

Online Source: News

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