08 May 2009

Further cuts to Australian skilled migration indicated

The Australian skilled migration program could be cut by a further 7,000 places upon the release of next week's federal budget, according to a story published today by the Sydney Morning Herald. This news comes amidst further reports that the Australian Government expects unemployment rates in Australia to continue to rise.

Should the program be cut by 7,000 places, this would reduce the Australian skilled migration intake to 108,000 places; a full 25,000 places less than and 20 per cent decrease of the program up to March this year.

Despite recent economic figures showing a positive trend in the Australian economy (including a fall in the unemployment rate last month from 5.7 per cent to 5.4 per cent, strong retail trade figures and rising commodity prices) the Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan has warned that the economy is still fragile.

"The process of deleveraging has still got some way to go; the outlook is uncertain," he said in an interview with The Herald yesterday.

"It is good that there is some kind of confidence emerging in some markets, it's good that there are signs of stimulus working in China.  But, as we emerge from this, we will be emerging in a completely different environment than we had for the previous half-a-dozen years globally."

He also said that the growth rate of the Australian economy during the recovery would be a far cry from the extraordinary growth seen in the middle of last year.

While measures will be taken to help the economy recover, such as restricting Medicare benefits, Mr Swan has promised not to remove tax-free benefits for superannuation withdrawals or amend legislated tax cuts.  He has also forewarned that the revenue shortfall will reach $200 billion for the next four years (up $5 billion from February's estimates).

While the Minister for Immigration Senator Chris Evans has not yet released details the Australian skilled migration program for the 2009-10 financial year, it can be expected that it would reflect the needs of the recovering Australian economy. 

Over the past few years, when the Australian economy was soaring at unprecedented levels, the Australian migration program also reached record levels (133,000 places for skilled migration).  This year, in response to the global economic contraction, Senator Evans had to refine the Australian skilled migration program so that it targeted those migrants with the skills needed most for the growth of the Australian economy, and slash the annual target to 115,000 places. 

Nevertheless, if predictions that the Australian skilled migration program would be reduced by a further 7,000 places come to fruition, there will still be a phenomenal 108,000 places available for potential skilled migrants to Australia. 

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.

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