Australia To Make ‘Modest’ Cut In Migrants

Australia to make 'modest' cut in migrants

The Australian government is considering a modest reduction in the number of migrant visas it issues in preparation for a rise in unemployment.

By Bonnie Malkin in Sydney
Last Updated: 3:33PM GMT 17 Dec 2008

Immigration minister Chris Evans has said the global financial crisis could lead to a smaller migrant intake in 2009, as demand for skilled migrants slowed.

The migrant scheme allowed about 159,000 foreign workers and their dependants into Australia in 2007-08. Of those, 108,000 were skilled migrants, including 23,000 Britons.

Acknowleding a modest reduction was “more likely than not”, Senator Evans said: “There's no doubt in my view that there's a strong link between the economic cycle and people's attitude towards immigration.”

But business leaders have warned against making anything more than a shallow cut, saying the move would damage the country's reputation as a desireable destination for skilled workers.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd recently hinted that migration levels could be tied to unemployment in the future.

Australia's employment rate remained steady at 4.2 per cent last month, but is expected to rise to 4.75 per cent by June next year. Mr Evans said the government was currently consulting industry over its labour demands and may have to revise unemployment forecasts.

Any change in the migration scheme would affect Britons wanting to relocate to Australia. British migrants make up the largrst group of general migrants to Australia, and the second largest group of skilled migrants, after India.