08 March 2005

Australia and New Zealand compete for skilled visa immigrants

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According to New Zealand's finance minister Michael Cullen, Australia and New Zealand are competing against each other to attract skilled migrants. In an effort to boost their respective economies and fill gaps in the skills market, the two countries are seeking the same individuals and families looking at emigrating to Australia and New Zealand.

Dr Cullen said trade and technical areas are in the shortest supply and the most difficult to attract. Part of the difficulty for New Zealand, he said, lies with the country’s lower wage rates.

To solve the skills issue the New Zealand Government is trying to encourage hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders to return home. It is also increasing pressure on officials to fill migrant quotas as it tries to plug growing job vacancies.

The Australian Government is under similar pressure; the Australian Minister of Immigration, Amanda Vanstone, said over the weekend her government will be using a combination of increased immigration and training to head off any lags in the Australian economy. Australian newspapers reported over the weekend the Government could increase migrant intake by 20,000.

In contrast in New Zealand, with two-thirds of the financial year over, only 25,694 of a potential 50,000 residency applications have been approved.

New Zealand Labour and Immigration Minister Paul Swain said this week there are as many as 600,000 New Zealanders working overseas. He said many are not aware of the country’s booming economy, skills shortage and the need to have them home.


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