While much of the rest of the world struggles to get their economies under control, Australia's continues to grow. However, a booming economy has its own problems to address, namely finding the people needed to fill the jobs which are being created.
Fuelled by Chinese demand, the resources boom in Australia goes from strength to strength but unlike China, Australia does not have hundreds of millions of people to fill the demand. The country has therefore looked to its Australia visa policy for ways to address the growing shortages.
The Australian government is reportedly considering increasing annual Working Holiday Visa numbers in order to address widening labour gaps...read more.
Tourism industry operators have called for relaxations in Australia visa policy in order to address widening labour gaps...read more.
The Sri Lankan High Commission to Australia has put his backing behind the opposing Coalition's controversial Australian immigration policy which would involve escorting asylum seeking boats out of Australian waters...read more.
Australia considering Working Holiday Visa holders to address staff shortages
Australia is considering allowing
Working Holiday Visa holders to
address staff shortages.
The Australian government is reportedly considering increasing annual Working Holiday Visa numbers in order to address widening labour gaps.
The booming Australian economy may be in stark contrast with much of the rest of the world, including the UK, but it has its downsides too.
The continually expanding resources sector which is fuelling the growing economy is in perpetual need of workers and, while plenty of foreign workers are being drafted in under the 457 visa program to take advantage of the great opportunities, so too are many Australians, leaving gaps in other industries, particularly tourism and hospitality.
Some studies predict that the Australian tourism and hospitality industries could be in need of as many as 35,000 workers within the next few years and Julia Gillard's government is reportedly considering using the Working Holiday Visa program to address the shortage.
"We are in the process of negotiating a range of other bilateral agreements with different countries to also enter into similar opportunities to bring additional holiday visa workers to Australia to assist, especially in the tourism industry," said Federal Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson.
Mr Ferguson said the government was committed to addressing the issue of any shortages or potential shortages and confirmed that Immigration Minister Chris Bowen was also considering extending the visas of foreign nationals already in the country working in the tourism industry.
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Industry calls for Australia visa relaxations to address labour gaps
The gaps in Australia's labour
market are widening.
Tourism industry operators have called for relaxations in Australia visa policy in order to address widening labour gaps.
In a formal request to the government, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) says that foreign workers holding an Australia visa will be needed to prevent serious damage to the country's tourism industry if labour gaps continue to widen as predicted.
The ACTU estimates the current shortages in occupations such as bar tending, tour bus driving and catering to be as high as 36,000 positions now, rising to over 55,000 within four years.
The shortage is due to the expanding mining industry centred in Western Australia which is enticing people away from jobs in other regions in search of higher paying work.
The ACTU says the government should consider lowering the current salary threshold of AU$49,300 (£32,420) for the 457 visa to the average waiter's wage of AU$33,800 (£22,225) and easing English language requirements.
"Given the profile of the available jobs, immigration may be a better longer-term source of labour," said a statement from Restaurant and Catering Australia (RCA).
Both the mining industry and the tourism industry have faced opposition to their pleas for foreign labour to address gaps with critics saying Australians can meet the need for workers. While Australians may be keen for the high paying jobs in the mining industry, the ACTU said Australians didn't want to do many of the jobs in the labour gap.
"Employers will undoubtedly argue that they can't find Australians to do these jobs," read their submission.
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Sri Lankan official recommends risky Australian immigration policy
The Coalition wants to use the
Australian navy to turn asylum
seeking boats around.
The Sri Lankan High Commission to Australia has put his backing behind the opposing Coalition's controversial Australian immigration policy which would involve escorting asylum seeking boats out of Australian waters.
Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott has previously said he would make turning the boats around a 'core policy' of his Australian immigration portfolio, a statement which has been roundly criticised by the government and refugee advocates as dangerous and putting lives at risk.
However, High Commissioner Thisara Samarasinghe has endorsed Mr Abbott's policies, despite many asylum seekers heading to Australia coming from Sri Lanka. The high commissioner said turning the boats back is a suitable deterrent.
"Turning the boats around will deter people," said the high commissioner, a former navy admiral.
Admiral Samarasinghe said the people fleeing Sri Lanka 'are not well educated' and 'don't have any money', therefore by escorting them back to Sri Lanka exhausts their options.
"I mean that is a physical barrier, they know that they can't leave Sri Lankan shores."
While the high commissioner's endorsement may be welcome news to Mr Abbott, his comments have been widely criticised by Tamil leaders in Australia. Australian Congresswoman Varuni Bala, herself a Tamil, says turning boats around would be cruel.
"To address these issues, they should come to a genuine political solution," Ms Bala said.
"If you put people out of the fear of persecution then no one will want to flee their homeland.
"Turning the boats is just putting those people in more danger of being persecuted."
The Tamil ethnic group consists of an estimated 3 million people in Sri Lanka but have faced extensive troubles since the 1983 civil war.
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- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the Australian Visa Bureau.
©Visa Bureau 2003-2013