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Government measures assist regional Australia

The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, has

announced that a new visa category aimed at attracting business migrants to

settle away from major population growth centres will begin on 1 July 1997.

The new visa category allows permanent residence for people who are in

Australia on a long-stay temporary business visa and who have a successful

record of ownership and management of a business outside the major

metropolitan areas.

"This measure is in line with the Coalition's determination to introduce

measures which will help create jobs and assist small business, especially

in regional Australia," Mr Ruddock said.

"The smaller States have tended to miss out on the benefits of skilled

migration because the settlement pattern of migrants has been heavily

skewed towards Australia's largest metropolitan areas.

"The Government recognised that measures were needed to ensure that the

benefits of skilled migration were felt throughout Australia, not just the

major metropolitan areas.

"To this end, the Commonwealth Government has been working with State and

Territory governments to develop a new Regional Established Business in

Australia (REBA) visa category.

REBA applicants must:

. have owned and operated a business outside NSW and the major

metropolitan areas of Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and south-eastern

Queensland for at least two years;

. have at least a 10 per cent share holding in a business which has an

annual turnover of at least $200,000 or exports of at least $100,000

and is located in a designated regional area;

. have net assets in Australia of $200,000 or more, at least $75,000 of

which must be invested in the business;

. be actively involved in the management of the business; and

. meet the pass mark on a points test which looks at their age, language

ability, number of employees and net assets. Additional points are

available for applicants who have sponsorship from their

State/Territory government.

"The Government has been working to ensure a more tightly-focussed

Migration Program, with an emphasis on skilled migration, and the new REBA

visa category will have the potential to generate employment, investment

and genuine business commitment to regional Australia."

Media inquiries:

Steve Ingram, 06 277 7860