16 March 2005

Australia to address worker shortage through immigration and skilled visas

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Australia’s Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone has indicated there will be an increase in Australia's intake of skilled migrants through immigration but denied it was a sign the government was panicking to address the country's worker shortage.

An additional 20,000 Australian visas are likely to be granted this year, the largest Australian visa increase in 20 years.

Although Senator Vanstone has refused to confirm reports cabinet plans to boost the number of skilled migrants, she said the migrant intake had increased almost every year the coalition had been in government and indicated the trend would continue this year.

Senator Vanstone told ABC radio if Australia we were to look at an increase this year, she wouldn't characterise it as a sudden response to some skills shortage. She went on to say that migrants are coming into Australia to meet the needs the country has at present.

Government opposition in the Labour party has criticized Senator Vanstone for using immigration to fill skills shortages rather than training Aussie workers.

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