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Nation-wide public consultations on Australia's immigration program commence

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r iU h iK A - U f A t U l K l T l D H i Q ίο I ”3 i H-"" t

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

The Hon. Philip Ruddock MR Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Telephone: (02) 6277 7860 Facsimile: (02) 6273 4144

MRS 17/99


The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, today marked the start " of his annual national consultations on the Government’s migration and humanitarian programs with the release of his Department's 1997-98 Settler Arrivals statistical report.

Mr Ruddock said :he report showed that 25,985 skilled migrants arrived in Australia during the 1997-98 financial year, a 31.9 per cent increase on the previous year.

“Skilled migrants represent 33.6 per cent of Australia's total migrant intake for the year - up from 23 per cent cm 1996-97. ’

"These figures are the best proof that changes made by this Government to Australia's migration program are successfully attracting highly skilled migrants - migrants who generate enormous benefits for the Australian community.”

Mr Ruddock said that for the first time a nation-wide series of public meetings will be held as part of the consultations on the Government's migration and humanitarian programs.

“Last year's consultations included for the first time, public meetings in Melbourne and Perth.

“These proved to be very successful and as a result I have decided to hold open meetings in every capital city as well as some regional centres this year. These public meetings are consistent with the Government’s promise to administer Australia's immigration program in an open and accountable manner.

“I hope they will provide a unique opportunity for many Australians to contribute their thoughts, ideas and comments.”

Mr Ruddock said Ms consultation program helped ensure that Australia was eliciting the expertise it needed, and that the community could be confident it was getting a migration program that would benefit the nation.

“During the consultation process I will be meeting representatives from more than 2,000 groups including State, Territory and local governments, business and industry groups, unions, environmental bodies, welfare organisations, church groups, and representatives of Australia's migrant communities.

“I am also pleased this year to involve members of my Refugee Resettlement Advisory Council at many of these consultations.

“Their advisory role in the migration and settlement process is an important one, particularly on issues regarding refugee resettlement. The consultations will provide them with the opportunity to hear community views on these issues first-hand."

This year's consult ations will commence in Tasmania today, with extensive meetings in both Launceston and Hobart, which is also the venue for the first public meeting.

ENDS Friday, 5 February, 1999

Media inquiries: E'rad Robinson - 0419 278 715