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Skilled migrants can help build our regions.

Skilled Migrants Can Help Build Our Regions


Martin Ferguson - Shadow Minister for Population


Media Statement - 6 March 2000


Attracting skilled migrants and skilled migrant businesses to our regions will be a priority under Labor's Population Policy, Shadow Minister for Population, Martin Ferguson said today.


"We need to do better in linking skills, regional development and immigration," Mr Ferguson told an Australian Industry Group conference in Canberra today.


"Skilled migration does not absolve our responsibility to train our own people and develop our own industry," he said.


"But I believe skilled migration better linked to regional skills shortages has the potential to not only contribute to local economic development, but also to break down the misconceptions many people have about immigration."


Mr Ferguson said the Prime Minister's recent comments about the need for a population debate had come four years after Labor started the debate but were "better late than never".


"While I welcome the Government's sudden backflip on skilled migrant numbers, I hope they will also consider Labor's suggestion to link this to the regional development agenda," he said.


Mr Ferguson said a Labor Government would establish a new Office of Population to advise on a range of population options and ways of getting there.


The Office of Population will work closely with other portfolios to broadly identify the right mix of policy measures to achieve the broad goal of moderate population growth.


Authorised by Gary Gray, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.