23 October 2008

Evans warned migrant intake cut would damage infrastructure growth

This week, an engineering body warned Senator Chris Evans, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, the economy would suffer further losses if he were to cut the migration intake, reports ABC News.

This week, Senator Evans admitted he might have to review the current record levels of Australian immigration to counteract a slowing economy and the global financial crisis.  This would mean fewer Australian visas would be approved next year to fill the skills shortage in the Australian workforce.

Engineers Australia has warned the Government a cut in the migrant intake will obstruct their plans for developing national infrastructure over the next few years. 

Engineers Australia chief executive Peter Taylor told reporters Australia needs another 28,000 engineers and skilled migration is the only answer to combating this shortage in the short term. 

"Now that governments all around Australia have recognised the importance of infrastructure in Australia's economic wellbeing, it means that the very significant programs that have been formulated by governments simply are being delayed in their implementation because of the lack of engineering professionals," he said.

Mr Taylor said the government has taken infrastructure projects as its responsibility so the Australian economy can remain buoyant and rising unemployment or an economic slowdown will not affect the construction industry. 

"Australia's already suffering from a 28,000-shortage of engineering professionals, and even though the financial crisis might mean a slowdown in the private sector's involvement in provision of infrastructure, the Government has neatly covered that by bringing forward the infrastructure Australia program to fill the gap," he said.

Senator Evans has not confirmed whether his government will cut back the number of Australian visa approvals before next year's budget; however, he is hinting it is a definite possibility.

"I'd envisage certainly that the migration program for next year would be smaller than this year," Senator Evans told a Senate estimates hearing.  "(But) no decision has been taken on that."

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their Australian visa application.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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