15 December 2008

Australia likely to maintain migrant levels next year

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The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Evans has put fears at rest that the global financial crisis would cause a drastic reduction in Australia's skilled migration quota, reports The Australian.

According to business groups, a reduction in the Australian immigration quota would tarnish the country's global image as a top choice destination for migrants. 

Senator Evans has reassured the lobbying business groups that his government would not overreact to the global recession.

"[Immigration] is a global market, so your reputation and your brand is quite important," Senator Evans told reporters.

"So certainly a lot of the advice is: don't ruin the brand by knee-jerk reactions, because we're going to be wanting to recruit in these areas, if not this year, then the year after."

This financial year, Australian immigration levels reached record levels, with 31,000 extra visaa taking the quota to 190,300 visas for Australia, which comprised 133,500 skilled visa migrants. 

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Peter Anderson said the government needs to be careful of reducing migration programmes in response to the financial slowdown, particularly the 457 temporary workers programme. 

"A downturn of 1-2 per cent is not a proper basis for recalibrating a skilled migration program," Mr Anderson told The Australian.

He said in times of financial distress the government needs to maintain a level of productivity, and skilled migration and temporary migration would maintain economic capacity and Australia's brand and reputation as a favourite destination for migrants.

In Futurebrand's Country Brand Index (CBI) 2008, Australia ranked number one in the world for the place people would most like to live in outside of their home country. 

The CBI surveys 2700 international business and leisure travellers about 30 different categories, including standard of living, art and culture, food, value for money, accommodation, shopping, political freedom and activities. 

The results of the poll show that besides their home country, most people would like to move to Australia than any other place in the world. 

The author of the study said of Australia, "Friendly people, nice weather, natural beauty, and a stable government make Australia the place where people most want to live."

Australia also won the coveted award for best-branded country in the world, and the country business travellers are most likely to extend their business trip for holidaying purposes than in any other country, followed by New Zealand.  Participants also voted Australia the best country for outdoor activities and sports, also followed by New Zealand.

"Australia is a leading business destination that also offers a wide variety of great leisure attractions for professional business travellers…  In Australia, you can climb the Harbour Bridge, explore the Australian wilderness, surf Bells Beach, ski Mount Kosciuszko, snorkel the Great Barrier Reef… and more."

Voters put Australia third in the world for the place they would most like to visit or revisit and fourth in the world for choices of resorts and lodgings.

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

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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