Australia boosts skilled migration numbers in budget

SYDNEY, May 13, 2008 (AFP) – Australia will boost its skilled migrant intake 30 percent to record levels in a bid to overcome a shortage of skilled workers, the government said Tuesday. As part of the centre-left Labor government’s first budget, Immigration Minister Chris Evans said an extra 31,000 skilled migrants would be allowed into Australia permanently in 2008-2009.

Evans said the extra allocation would take skilled migrant numbers to 133,500 for the year, by far the largest component of Australia’s total migrant intake of 190,300.

He said former prime minister John Howard’s conservative government had not allowed enough skilled migrants into Australia, leaving employers struggling to fill vacancies.

“This record increase in the number of places in the permanent skilled migration programme … will help ease Australia’s skills shortage and help fight inflation,” he said.

Evans said research showed that labour market participation by permanent skilled migrants was more than 90 percent.

In addition, he said more than 100,000 temporary skilled migrants were expected in Australia in 2008-2009.

Evans announced another break with the Howard government’s po