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Attracting skilled migrants, tourists and students to Australia in the Asian Century

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28 October 2012


Australia is set to capitalise on Asia’s highly skilled population to create an educated, productive work force to bolster our economy in the future, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen, said today.

“Even with the Government's unprecedented investment in tertiary education and up-skilling Australians, we need migrants who bring their specialist skills to Australia,’’ Chris Bowen said.

“The Australia in the Asian Century White Paper highlights the exciting opportunities for Australia’s growth as our neighbours further build trade and industrial strength.

Seven of the top 10 source countries in Australia's 2011-12 migration program are in the Asian region: India, China, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, South Korea and Vietnam.

The Indian sub-continent is Australia’s largest source region of migrants, providing 23 per cent of the migration program, while 18.3 per cent of migrants come from the north of Asia.

“More than a quarter of our nation’s migrants were born in an Asian nation and nearly 1.5 million Australians are fluent in one or more Asian languages, including Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Hindi, Punjabi, Indonesian, Korean, Tagalog and Japanese,” Chris Bowen said.

“This means that Australia is uniquely placed to strengthen ties with Asian nations.”

Tourism from Asia injects billions of dollars into the economy every year and piloting new streamlined visa processes will encourage more people from the region to consider Australia as a destination of choice.

“We are making it easier than ever for tourists from the Asian region to visit Australia and contribute to our economic and cultural growth,” Chris Bowen said.

“We need to be able to take advantage of the expected increase in regional travel across Asia and the subsequent emerging tourist markets.”

To facilitate this, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship is expanding its network of service and delivery partners to support online visa lodgement, multiple entry visas and longer visa validity periods.

“Visitors from China are of particular focus and the 2011 Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen tourism cooperation between our countries will support a growing travel market,” Chris Bowen said.

Students from abroad boost Australia’s economy by billions every year. In 2011, there were more than 550,000 international student enrolments (77 per cent from within the Asian region) in Australian education institutions.

“We want to ensure that future leaders in the Asian region who are educated at our world-class institutions have positive experiences, fostering people-to-people links and supporting the cultural ties that protect our nation’s interests in the region,” Chris Bowen said.

Streamlining the student visa assessment process will make it easier for people who want to study here, while post-study work rights for bachelor degree and PhD graduates will encourage skilled people to contribute to Australia’s development.

“The rise of Australia’s close neighbours has the potential to greatly benefit our nation over the coming century,” Chris Bowen said.

“The Gillard Government’s improvements to our migration systems and visa processes will mean that we are well prepared to welcome people from across Asia who will contribute to our economy and culture.”

Media Contacts: Bill Kyriakopoulos 0400 510 802 / Laura Stevens 0432 833 769