Some road transport driver categories are to be removed from the list of eligible occupations for the temporary business subclass 457 visa program as changes come into effect from July 1 this year.
The changes follow the final report to government of the Trucking Industry Working Group, endorsed by immigration minister Chris Evans.
Based on submissions from interested and relevant parties, the report found that while slight growth was expected for the occupation of truck driver over the next five years, the program is insufficient to provide the industry with a permanent solution to workforce issues.
Also among the findings was the lack of uniformity across Australia in licensing requirements for heavy vehicle drivers, which is causing confusion among employers.
The report recommended that the immigration minister agrees to remove access to the subclass 457 visa for the occupation of driver and to explore options for the permanent entry of overseas truck drivers.
To mitigate workplace issues, the report also said Austroads needs to expedite the implementation of policy, which requires overseas visitors who intend to drive a vehicle for commercial purpose to obtain an Australian-issued licence prior to commencing employment.
The 457 visa program has previously entailed eight areas of employment including driving, logistic management, warehousing, automotive computer control systems and trailer construction and repair.
The working group consists of representatives from organisations including the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Employment and Workplace Relations, Transport Workers Union, Linfox, Australian Logistics Council and Monash University.