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457 changes to hurt restaurants

Australia’s top chefs are worried about changes to 457 visas.

They’re saying it will also have an impact on Australia’s bumper tourism industry.

The changes, announced in April, abolish the road to permanent residency for certain industries. That includes key roles including restaurant managers, bakers and cooks.

The problem is the hospitality industry needs foreign workers. It brings them in to fill certain roles, and provide certain skills that Australians don’t have.

Everything from a French pastry chef to a specialist in sake.

Sydney chef Neil Perry, who runs the national Rockpool Dining Group with more than 60 restaurants and 3000 staff serving everything from fine dining to burgers, at venues ranging from Rockpool, Jade Temple and Rosetta in Sydney, is very concerned about the changes.

About a third of Rockpool’s staff are on some kind of temporary work or student visa.

He says these workers are important because it’s not always possible to find the right skillset and it will affect Rockpool’s expansion plans, particularly when it’s looking at a $1 billion IPO.

"[Workers on 457 visas] are super important for the restaurant industry because there are skills we need to bring in, both back- and front-of-house, in cooking, service [and] sommeliers," Perry told the ABC’s Lateline.

"It means we have to reflect on [any possible] expansion — can we or can't we. [With the] labour market saying [it] can't supply any more, we have to rethink what we're planning to do."

Nino Zoccali, who runs Pendolino and La Rosa in Sydney’s Strand Arcade, also expressed his concerns.

“Everybody is talking about key staff leaving and not wanting to stay because of the changes to the rules,” Zocalli told Lateline.

The changes come at the worst possible time for the industry with Deloitte Access Economics’ 2015 Australian Tourism Labour Force report pointing to an existing shortfall of 38,000 positions in the industry rising to 123,000 by 2020.

13th September 2017