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ABC Lateline with Chris Evans
Old 4th September 2009, 07:45 AM   #1
Glenn Pereira
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Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: VIC
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Glenn Joseph Pereira Registered Migration Agent
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Default ABC Lateline with Chris Evans

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: If we can shift focus a bit, I suppose, to migration policy, you reduced the skilled migration intake this year, obviously in the face of what you thought the economic conditions were at the time.

Things are looking better with the economy. I wonder if people in business have already approached you and said, "Listen, we need to think about raising the skilled migration intake again."

SENATOR CHRIS EVANS: I certainly made it clear at the time I thought we would run large migration programs for a number of years, that this was a temporary correction, and when the economy improved there'd still be a shortage of skills in the economy. We are obviously trying to fill those skills needs by training more young Australians for the demands of the economy, but I think we'll still need strong migration over the coming years, particularly because of the ageing of the work force.

So those demands will commence again, and certainly in my own state of Western Australia I've already been having discussions with a range of large developments about their skills needs, things like the Gorgon project.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: So you have already flagged the need to raise that again?

SENATOR CHRIS EVANS: They've started talking to me about what the labour needs will be and prospects are of getting the skills from the Australian work force. I think Gorgon is relatively confident they'll be able to fill most of the positions locally. But if we get a succession of large developments occurring at once, there's no doubt that some migration support will be needed in order to meet some of those skills needs.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: I just wonder if your policy, your view is to try to stay ahead of the growth curve of the economy, or do you wait for the economy to grow and wait for people to come to you and say, "Listen, we need these people".

SENATOR CHRIS EVANS: Obviously we try to stay in front of the game, and we try to make sure that the migration program is much more responsive to employers' needs, that's one of the things I have been focusing on for the last year. People have to understand that the most immediate way of responding to the needs is with a temporary migration program. A lot of employers want to bring people on only for temporary purposes, for short period of times, and the 457 program meets those needs.

We have seen a dramatic drop off in the number of 457 visa applications reflecting the state of the economy. But if the economy picks up, no doubt the numbers of those applications will pick up again as well.
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