Collier should get facts right on skilled migration
Wednesday, 21 March 2012
The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, today said Western Australia was one of the greatest beneficiaries of skilled migration in Australia and encouraged WA Training Minister Peter Collier to get his facts straight on the issue.
Mr Bowen said Mr Collier seemed unable to grasp the basic principles of skilled migration and failed to recognise the significance of recent changes for the state of Western Australia.
'Australia has long been an attractive destination for skilled migrants, which means we get to select from the best and brightest on offer — and Western Australia continues to be amongst the major beneficiaries,' Mr Bowen said.
'The statistics clearly show that the 457 visa program is working extremely well for WA, which accounts for over 34 per cent of growth in the demand-driven and uncapped program.
'Last year the Federal Government announced a raft of new migration measures to help tackle skills shortages, including increasing the Skilled Migration program by 12 000 places and introducing Enterprise Migration Agreements (EMAs) for major resource projects, many of which will be inevitably be in WA.
'In addition, under the State Migration Plan, WA holds over a quarter of all places in the program and together with Victoria has the largest number of places allocated to any state or territory.
'Last year we also registered Perth as a 'regional city' for the purpose of greater access to skilled migration and to provide employers with another, easier avenue to recruit the skilled workers they need from overseas.
'Just two weeks ago I announced reforms to cut red tape and streamline the pathway to permanent residency for 457 visa holders.'
Mr Bowen said Mr Collier was also out of his depth on discussions with the Irish Government, obviously making undeliverable promises that were beyond his jurisdiction.
'The Australian Government has a great relationship with the Irish, in fact I met with the Ambassador very recently to discuss a range of matters,' he said.
'Australia’s skilled migration program does not discriminate on the basis of nationality, however it is clear that our visa settings are not inhibiting migration by Irish nationals.
'For the first time in 25 years, Ireland recently joined the ranks of our top 10 migrant source countries for permanent migration.'
Last year, the government almost doubled the number of Working Holiday Maker visas granted to Irish nationals, up to almost 22 000 places. Ireland is now the third largest source of temporary skilled migrants through the 457 visa program.
'The Federal Government works cooperatively with other states on a range of migration issues, which is something Mr Collier may want to consider in future,' Mr Bowen said.
Last update: Wednesday, 21 March 2012 at 14:48 AEST