India-Australia Current Affairs

Indian Warships reach Australia to take part in Bilateral Maritime Exercise AUSINDEX-17

Indian warships have reached Australia’s port city of Freemantle to take part in a week-long naval exercise off the Western Australian coast.

Salient Highlights

Exercise Australia-India (AUSINDEX) was first conducted off the East Coast of India in September 2015. AUSINDEX-17 will be the second overall bilateral drill between Indian Navy and Royal Australian Navy.

AUSINDEX bilateral exercise aims to enhance interoperability and professional interaction between two navies.

Politically, the joint exercise assumes significance as India is yet to take a final decision to accommodate Australia’s request to participate in the Indian-led Malabar naval exercise this year. Malabar naval exercise involves the navies of India, Japan, and the United States.

Indian warships INS Kamorta, the INS Shivalik (first stealth warship built in India), and oiler INS Jyoti, will take part in the exercise.

Australian warships which will take part in the exercise includes missile frigate HMAS Newcastle; diesel-electric submarine HMAS Waller; special operations unit, Clearance Diving Team Four; and P3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force.

The exercise will be held between June 17 and 19.

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Australia abolishes 457 Visa Programme largely used by Indians

Australia has abolished the 457 Visa Programme used by thousands of temporary foreign workers, a majority of them Indians to address growing unemployment in that country. Instead, Australia wants to adopt ‘Australians first’ approach to skilled migration.

Since access to the skills is important for the growth and investment of that country’s businesses, it intends to replace the 457 visa programme by another visa programme, with new restrictions. The new temporary visa will be designed in such a way it will help in recruiting the best and brightest to fill critical skill gaps in the interest of that nation. The new visa will ensure that foreign workers are not brought into Australia just because it is easy for the employers to recruit a foreign worker than go to the trouble of hiring an Australian.

There are about 95,757 workers in Australia on primary 457 visa programme. Worryingly, the majority of the visa holders are from India followed by the UK and China. This announcement has come days after Prime Minister Turnbull visited India where a range of issues, including national security, counter-terrorism, education and energy, were discussed. Totally, six agreements were signed during his visit.

457 Visa

The 457 visa allows Australian employers to employ foreign workers for a period up to four years in skilled jobs where there is a shortage of Australian workers. The visa holders are eligible to bring family members, who have unrestricted work and study rights in Australia. The visa was introduced during the tenure of Prime Minister John Howard in 1996.

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