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Critics miss point on migrant dispersal

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M e d i a R e l e a s e

The Hon. Philip Ruddock MP Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Telephone: (06) 277 7860 Facsimile: (06) 273 4144

MRS 30/96

CRITICS MISS POINT ON MIGRANT DISPERSAL Critics of the plan to encourage migrants to settle away from the major cities should not denigrate the smaller capital cities or major regional centres the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock said today.

"Opponents of these would have you believe that the only cities anyone should settle in, are Sydney or Melbourne. Both are magnificent cities, but we should be encouraging migrants to also consider other parts of Australia," Mr Ruddock said.

"Cities such as Adelaide, Darwin, Hobart and Cairns are saying they have specific skill shortages they cannot fill locally. The schemes outlined or being considered by the Government will help meet those needs by bringing in highly skilled migrants."

"It is wrong of people to say there are no opportunities in those cities."

Out of a Concessional Family category of 8,000 places, the Government announced plans to offer an advantage to 700 migrants, whose sponsors live in designated areas around Australia. This was in addition to another 500 places already allocated under the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS).

The plans respond to community concern about the growth of Sydney and Melbourne and skill shortages in the smaller capital and provincial cities. A Commonwealth-State working party is looking at other initiatives sought by states and territories.

However some people are tilting at windmills in their criticism. The facts are: • There is no proposal to place a large number of unskilled migrants into areas without job prospects. The people entering will be highly skilled. • There is no coercion. People who wisTi to settle in the major population centres

can still apply under the remaining 72,800 places in other categories. • The possible performance bond has been blown out of proportion. The new category does not have a bond and will rely on the attraction of the family sponsor.

"Research has shown that location of family is a major determining factor in where a new migrant settles," Mr Ruddock said.

"However, if that alone is not sufficient, other measures such as a bond might be considered, although no amount has been fixed. In principle, this is no different to the bond for migrant welfare benefits introduced by the former Government."

The RSMS has already filled a skill vacuum for employers in Tasmania, NT and WA, while employers in regional NSW and Queensland have applications pending. Skilled migrants have assisted employers who could not fill jobs locally.

"The Government's plans will benefit those areas of Australia seeking skilled settlers and help ease the population pressure on our major cities. I would urge people to look at facts, not the hysterics, nor people who have missed the point, " Mr Ruddock said.

CANBERRA 10 July 1996

MEDIA CONTACT Steve Ingram (06) 277 7860