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Minister announces innovative new 'Contingency Reserve'
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Media Release


The Hon. Philip Ruddock MP

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs


MPS 64/99




The Government is to create a ‘contingency reserve’ of 5,000 places for skilled entrants as part of the 1999-2000 Migration Program, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, announced today.


Mr Ruddock said that the extra 5,000 places, available after the 35,000 places already allotted for the Skill Stream were filled, would enable businesses and states/territories to reap the benefits of skilled migration without compromising high selection standards.


“There have been calls for a substantial increase in the Skill stream, with some advocates arguing for a 50,000 increase. However, such untargeted increases would only be possible by significantly diluting selection criteria.


“This would irreparably undermine the significant economic, budgetary and employment benefits of skilled migration.


“It is critical that any increase works to maintain high selection standards and achieve a better dispersal of the intake, while also ensuring employment opportunities for Australians are not reduced.


“To this end, employers will have to be more pro-active in targeting migrants with skills in short supply through the Employer Nomination Scheme and Labour Agreements”.


Mr Ruddock said that a special Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL) will be created to help industry and states and territories to obtain the skilled migrants they need.


“This list will nominate a variety of occupations where skill shortages exist, such as certain computer professionals, accountants, nurses and some trades.


“Any applicant through the Employer Nomination Scheme who fell into one of these occupations will be able to have certain conditions waived including labour market testing and post-graduate work experience requirements for overseas » « students with Australian qualifications.


“The three-year employment contract can also be waived where a sponsored migrant meets the minimum threshold criteria for age, skills and English language ability.


“This new model enables employers to meet critical skills needs while ensuring that they are committed to training existing residents”.


Mr Ruddock said the contingency reserve would also benefit those states seeking to attract a higher proportion of the skilled migration intake.



“While many States have indicated a strong desire to attract more skilled migrants, the take-up of state-specific migration categories had been patchy, with South Australia the only state to make any substantial effort.


“To encourage a speedy take-up, as of 1 July 1999, the Skill Matching Database will be expanded and made more widely available”.


The Skill Matching Database can be used by any State/Territory Government to nominate skilled migrants for permanent entry or by employers facing skill shortages. It has been in operation for two years and lists some 1,000 prospective migrants at any one time.


In addition, Mr Ruddock said State and Territory Governments would be able to assist those applicants in the Regional Linked Category who have functional level English to enter as long as the participating State/Territory Governments arrange post-arrival English language tuition for these migrants on a cost-recovery basis.


“It is fundamental that, where possible, skilled migrants settle in those states and territories that have indicated the greatest need. This will also help to reduce the extent to which migrants settle in places such as Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.


“I have established the mechanisms and the places to achieve a well targeted increase in the Skill Stream.


“The ball is now firmly in the court of the business community and relevant State/Territory Governments who frequent ly state a desire for more skilled migrants.”


ENDS Thursday, 29 April 1999


Media Inquiries: Brad Robinson (02) 6277 7860 or 0419 278 715