07 October 2010

Australian immigration ‘must be increased or economy will suffer’

The economy will suffer if the Federal Government does not increase its temporary skilled migrant intake, an immigration expert has told a world forum.

Australia Visa

Limits on Australia visa numbers will only hinder the economy, an immigration expert has told an IT world forum.

Alan Chanesman, chief executive of the immigration strategy firm Lipman James, told the World Computer Congress in Brisbane that the IT sector in particular is especially valuable to the Australian economy, as it contributes around 66 per cent of the GDP.

But Mr Chanesman warns that current migration targets are inadequate and the number of Australia Visa subclass 457 applications has fallen by 20 per cent because of the global financial crisis.

In 1996, the Howard government introduced the 457 business visa, a visa stream that is uncapped and driven by employers' demands for personnel. This Australia Visa provides a pathway to permanent migration.

Slashing the Australia immigration intake, as the government proposes to do,  would be at the peril of the economy, Mr Chanesman said.

"In the imminent future more Australians will retire than will join the workforce, which will have significant implications for economic growth and the government purse as older Australians move to retirement and labour participation rates drop markedly," Mr Chanesman told the congress.

"Immigration is an essential ingredient in the population growth and one lever the commonwealth can use to moderate or accelerate overall numbers."

Mr Chanesman said the government must also be committed to attracting business through policies that accelerate and stimulate business development.

"Permanent resident transition from permanent migration via the employer sponsorship directly impacts the net bottom line on our nation's net GDP,” he said.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people lodge their Australia Visa application with the Australia High Commission

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