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Australian Immigration Update - 06 August, 2012

by Dominic 06/08/2012 11:04:00
Australian immigration fuels population boom in city suburbs

Increased rates of Australian immigration in the past five years has led to an incredible growth in popularity of suburban property outside of the country's main cities, a recent study shows...read more.

Government insists controversial Australia visa progress remains positive

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has said the controversial Enterprise Migration Agreement (EMA), which provides temporary foreign workers an Australia visa to work on particularly large projects, is moving forward despite the criticism...read more.

Minister promises flexible Australia visa program to cope with construction demand

In a speech to the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA), Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has paid tribute to 'responsive' Australia visa policy when providing foreign skills to the country's mining and construction industries...read more.

New laws to crackdown on employers hiring workers without valid Australia visa

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says he is introducing new laws which will give authorities the power to investigate employers suspected of hiring foreign workers without a valid Australia visa and impose tough penalties on those found guilty...read more.

Public call in to Australia visa fraud hotline

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has lauded the impact a special hotline has had in tracking down illegal immigrants...read more

Navitas chief blames Australia visa rules for student slump

International education provider Navitas has said tightened Australia visa requirements can be blamed for a declining trend in international students heading to the country to study...read more




Australian immigration fuels population boom in city suburbs

More people are moving out of
Melbourne's centre.

Increased rates of Australian immigration in the past five years has led to an incredible growth in popularity of suburban property outside of the country's main cities, a recent study shows.

A report published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows almost 650,000 new residents in Melbourne's outer areas alone, with much of it being attributed to Australian immigration.

"What comes to the fore over the past five years is the level of overseas migration," said Andrew Howe, a spokesperson for ABS. "A lot of them have chosen Melbourne."

Five of Melbourne's suburban areas topped the list of population growth over the last decade but as more land opens up for development outside other Australian cities, more are expected to catch up quickly.

Increased rates of immigration have increased demand for property within city centres and urban residential areas, meaning many Australian citizens and new migrants have chosen to look futher afield for cheaper, and often larger, homes.

However, Mr Howe says inner city living is also proving extremely popular, particularly among young professionals and students, with Melbourne's Docklands area being highlighted as undergoing rapid rates of growth tahnks to an urban renewal scheme.

"Inner-city living has become more popular in all Australian capital cities. People want to live closer to the city - especially younger adults wanting to be closer to work and education."

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Government insists controversial Australia visa progress remains positive

Mr Bowen said there has been
no slowdown in EMA processing.
 

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has said the controversial Enterprise Migration Agreement (EMA), which provides temporary foreign workers an Australia visa to work on particularly large projects, is moving forward despite the criticism.

An EMA allows large-scale projects, typically mining projects, to bring in large numbers of foreign workers when local labour cannot be found although critics contend the EMAs do not include sufficient safeguards to ensure local labour is thoroughly sought before foreign labour can be used.

The first EMA was approved in May to the world's richest woman, Gina Rinehart, and her Roy Hill iron ore mining project in Western Australia. Ms Rinehart was granted permission to bring in 1,715 foreign workers over the next three years.

However, the deal proved so controversial with Australian workers' unions and opposing politicians as well as from some within the government that the deal is still being negotiated. 

Yet Mr Bowen has denied claims that further EMAs will not be approved.

"There's been no slowdown in approval of EMAs because we only have a certain number of applications," the minister told a mining industry conference, adding that negotiations for the Roy Hill EMA were still ongoing due the government's commitment to get it right.

The immigration minister refused to say how many EMA applications his department had received but admitted that as many as 50 projects would be eligible for an agreement.

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Minister promises flexible Australia visa program to cope with construction demand

The minister praised the ability
of the immigration system to
respond to changing needs.
 

In a speech to the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA), Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has paid tribute to 'responsive' Australia visa policy when providing foreign skills to the country's mining and construction industries.

Mr Bowen said Australia visa application rates had risen in accordance with the recovery of the global economy and had proved essential in ensuring the continuing progress of the mining and construction trades which kept Australia in growth while the rest of the world suffered.

"The 457 visa program has proved to be highly responsive to labour market conditions.  For example, over the year to June 2009 — during the peak of the global financial crisis when employment growth was starting to come off — we saw visa applications fall by 11 per cent," said the minister.

"As the economy has recovered following the global financial crisis, so too have 457 visa applications. There are now more than 90,000 primary 457 visa holders in Australia.

"These trends are particularly strong in the mining states of Western Australia and Queensland. Across Australia, the number of 457 visa holders going into the mining industry has increased by 77 per cent over the past 12 months, from 3,650 to 6,500.  At the same time, construction sector 457s increased by 55 per cent from 5,900 to 9,200."

Chinese-fuelled demand for Australia's abundant resources meant that the country kept its head above water while much of the Western World struggled with economic woes.

"The temporary skilled migration program is assisting industry to obtain the skills it needs, where and when it needs them," Mr Bowen said.

Australia may have enjoyed massive investment during the global financial crisis but with most economies having begun the road to recovery, the previously-booming level of demand from Australia has started to slow and Mr Bowen says Australia has to be prepared.

"We have continued to reduce 457 visa processing times, even with the strong growth in 457 numbers. We are now fast-tracking visa applications for the resources sector, with the median processing time at 13 days."

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New laws to crackdown on employers hiring workers without valid Australia visa

Australia is trying to crackdown
on illegal immigration.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says he is introducing new laws which will give authorities the power to investigate employers suspected of hiring foreign workers without a valid Australia visa and impose tough penalties on those found guilty.

Mr Bowen said Australian immigration authorities would be given the power to search offices and fine employers with illegal workers up to AU$50,000 (£33,800) as current legislation does little to limit the exploitation of foreign workers and increase job opportunities for Australians.

"Limited criminal sanctions introduced by the Howard government in 2007 have proved ineffective, so new measures are needed," the minister said in a statement.

Mr Bowen said an employer's ignorance to an employee's immigration status would not be accepted as a valid excuse for taking on illegal workers, leaving it up to employers and companies to carry out due diligence on their employees.

The wording of the policy dictates that employers must be able to 'establish they took reasonable steps... to either verify that the foreign national worker is not an unlawful non-citizen or verify that the foreign national worker is not in breach of the work-related visa'.

Mr Bowen said he will be seeking feedback on the proposals before introducing the laws to parliament by the end of the year.

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Public call in to Australia visa fraud hotline

People have been encouraged
to call the 'dob-in line'.
 

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has lauded the impact a special hotline has had in tracking down illegal immigrants.

While numbers of illegal immigrants are typically hard to keep track of, the estimates predict there are as many as 100,000 people working in the country without a valid Australia visa. And the government wants to track them down.

In order to assist enforcement, a special hotline has been set up which allows members of the public to report people they suspect of being in the country illegally. The line received almost 17,000 calls over the past year, 325 a week.

Australian immigration officials say over 15,000 people in the country illegally over the past year, although how many of these were then deported is not known.

The effectiveness of the line has been praised by Minister Bowen, labelling the hotline as a 'dob-in line' which was proving to be a 'valuable tool in maintaining the integrity of our migration program'.

"I encourage anyone with information about illegal workers, visa overstayers or visa fraud to call the immigration dob-in line on 1800 009 623," said the immigration minister.

"The Immigration Department collects and records all information provided, officers will the investigate the allegations by checking records, conducting surveillance and carrying out site visits to locate individuals involved in illegal practices."

Mr Bowen said the government would be making further changes to Australian immigration legislation which would make it easier for officials to combat illegal immigration.

"Illegal workers undermine the integrity of Australia's migration program, reduce work opportunities for Australians and expose vulnerable workers to exploitation."

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Navitas chief blames Australia visa rules for student slump

Attacks on Indian students in
2009 led to widespread 
protests (pictured) and resulted
in declining visa rates.
 

International education provider Navitas has said tightened Australia visa requirements can be blamed for a declining trend in international students heading to the country to study.

"I think a large part of [the decrease is] driven principally by the changes in the regulatory environment which means that the opportunities for students to come and study in number of our key markets has been reduced substantially," said Navitas chief executive Rod Jones.

Australia's multi-billion dollar international education industry is a world leader but has struggled to recover since several high profile attacks on Indian students in 2009.

The industry was worth as much as AU$18 billion (£12 billion) a year to the Australian economy but Mr Jones says declining application rates and a rising Australian dollar have seen that value fall to AU$12 billion (£8 billion).

A drop in student numbers has been common knowledge in Australia for some time and the government has taken steps to address the decline.

A series of adjustments to application processes known as the Knight reforms were introduced earlier this year and Mr Jones says the industry could now begin to recover.

"There's no doubt the market has bottomed [out] in terms of student numbers and we are clearly seeing, as I think are most parts of the industry, a return of students back to Australia.

"We'll expect to start growing from here."

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- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the Australian Visa Bureau.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

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