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457 Visa Axing to Affect Racing Industry

Thursday, 20th April 2017

Racing Australia will lobby the Federal government in a bid to have track work riders exempt from its new four-year visa system announced on Tuesday, reports ANZ Bloodstock News. The Coalition government has announced that it is axing its 457 visa program and replacing it with a new system that will limit the number of skilled professions that can be filled by foreign workers. The restrictions will apply to the role of ‘horse trainers’ and ‘jockeys’. The Australian racing industry relies heavily on 457 visas to fill the shortage of skilled horse riders in the country. “With the skills shortage to ride horses in Australia, 70 per cent of our track riders are foreign,” Lindsay Park co-trainer David Hayes said. “Unfortunately, working with horses, particularly when they are worth millions of dollars, is a specialised skill and you can’t take away the foreign workers because there is no one else to work the horses.” Hayes added: “There is a shortage of horse people in Australia who can handle thoroughbreds and that is why we have so many foreign workers. It costs more to have someone on a 457 visa, so we would much rather employ an Aussie but there are no Aussies to employ. I was disappointed when I heard the news.” Racing Australia chief executive Barry O’Farrell said: “Racing Australia is talking to the Federal Government and has been since the changes were announced yesterday and we will continue to highlight the significance of the industry not only to economic growth but the importance of these (foreign) staff to the sector.”

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