07 July 2005

Australian businesses given help to employ migrants

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More than 500,000 employers will get taxpayer-funded assistance to bring in migrant workers under the government's response to Australia's skills shortage.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said 12 senior part-time and full-time immigration department staff will be seconded to 18 industry groups to help them increase employer sponsored migration.

Farmers, the housing and construction industries, mining and exploration, motoring, engineering and manufacturing groups will all be given assistance.

The groups represent around half a million businesses, Senator Vanstone said.

Immigration staff will provide them with advice about how to attract and bring in skilled migrants as part of the government's 20,000 skilled migration target in 2005-06, she said in a statement.

"The DIMIA (Department of Immigration) staff will work in partnership with industry to address migration-related skills and labour issues and will provide expert support (to) their members," she said.

A spokesman for Senator Vanstone said the groups were not contributing to the cost of the measure.

Farmers have welcomed the government's announcement. "Farmers are currently under-utilising visa options," National Farmers' Federation spokesman Duncan Fraser said in a statement.

"There are a variety of migration options available to Australian farmers, but these options are either not known to farmers or there is a perception that the process of employer sponsored migration is simply too difficult."

Senator Vanstone announced in April Australia would increase its intake of skilled migrants by 20,000 to 97,500 in 2005-06.

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