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Thursday, 31 May 1979

Senator GUILFOYLE - Australia has lodged advertisements in the West German Press indicating an interest in receiving migration applications from people in a range of skilled occupations. In all cases the occupations are in persistent under-supply in certain locations in Australia. Australia has chosen to advertise for these occupations in view of the inability of Australian employers to fill local needs from within the Australian labour market. In all cases a long period of training is required to produce the appropriate level of skill. It would be irresponsible for Australia to refuse to fill the vacancies through immigration in the hope that after a prolonged period they could be filled through domestic training schemes. Many of the occupations advertised are key jobs upon which employment of ancillary workers depends. Any delay in filling them would impede the creation of job opportunities for less skilled workers already in Australia.

Many statements have been made with regard to training and retraining programs for Australians but it would be simplistic to suggest that retraining programs might wholly replace selective migrant recruitment. Immigration is in no sense a substitute for retraining and the reverse applies also. The Australian Government currently operates a wide range of training programs to equip Australian workers to fill various local skill needs. However, the Government recognises that the supply of certain skills through immigration will continue to be necessary to fill needs which arise at short notice and to acquire new skills and techniques currently not in Australia.

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