Tougher penalties could be on the cards for 457 Visa rorters

THE federal Cabinet will consider measures on Monday night designed to crackdown on companies rorting the 457 visa program.

News Limited reported on Sunday the tougher measures would include fining employers who lie to authorities about labour shortages to get around bringing in overseas workers on 457 visas.

Labor has been accused in engaging on class warfare on the issue.

Just last month Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor sparked controversy when he claimed in an interview there could be as many as 10,000 rorts of the program.

Speaking about the proposed changes on Sunday Mr O'Connor said a "majority" of employers did the right thing, but added they were at a competitive disadvantage against those exploiting the scheme.

He said the 457 scheme needed to "genuinely" respond to labour shortages.

"We have found there are situations where employers do not demonstrate a local shortage," Mr O'Connor said.

"Breaches to the 457 scheme undermines the confidence Australians have in such a scheme. For that reason I have announced some of the reforms we are looking to put in place."

He said the Federal Government had an "obligation" to ensure Australians were being employed wherever possible.

The government's reforms would lead to a reduction in breaches and applications which "offend the spirit" of the scheme, Mr O'Connor said.

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