10 July 2003

Regional Australia benefits from record migration

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More skilled migrants than ever are choosing to call Australia's regional areas home, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Philip Ruddock announced today.

Mr Ruddock said that this very encouraging outcome is the result of productive collaboration, between all levels of government.

In 2002-03, 7,940 visas were granted under State specific and regional migration initiatives. This is an increase of 92 per cent over last year's outcome and represents over 12 per cent of the total Skill Stream in 2002-03.

Predictions suggest the proportion of migrants opting to settle in regional Australia will continue to grow and greatly assist economic development in regional areas.

The Minister said that we now have over 6,600 potential migrants on the Skill Matching Database who are ready to be nominated by regional employers or State/Territory governments.

'I continue to introduce initiatives that will encourage even more skilled and business migrants to settle in regional Australia,' Mr Ruddock said.

'These will provide State and Territory governments with even more influence over the number and skill level of migrants settling in their jurisdictions and in line with their economic and regional development objectives,' Mr Ruddock added.

Changes to the Business Skills program on 1 March 2003 include development of a State and Territory Government sponsored four-year provisional visa to business migrants. These people will then be eligible to apply for permanent residence after they have successfully operated a business in a targeted region for at least two years, and have again obtained State or Territory Government sponsorship.

Another incentive includes extra bonus points for general skilled migration applicants who have obtained Australian qualifications from regional university campuses.

Applicants who are listed on the database have met Australia's threshold criteria for skill and English language requirements. They are available for nomination by employers in regional Australia and by State and Territory governments.

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