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Mining boom hits Queensland

October 6th, 2011
Gladstone, Queensland

A fossil-fuelled boom is boosting Gladstone's economy

New coal and gas extraction projects planned across Queensland are expected to increase demand for labour across the ‘Sunshine State’.

The A$80 billion worth of investment in the projects is likely to translate into around 38,000 new jobs – not just in fossil fuel operations but in construction.

Many construction workers will have to be flown in and out to various projects during their construction phase – moving between temporary accommodations around the state – but there will be some permanent and ongoing jobs as well..

The action is centred around the central Queensland coastal town of Gladstone and the Galilee Basin, and fly-in-fly-out workers are already being recruited from as far away from Ireland.

The biggest employer in the industry is US-owned construction engineers Bechtel. And the resulting economic boost is likely to have a knock-on effect, potentially increasing job opportunities in other sectors as well, including transport, logistics, hospitality, IT and marketing.

So if you dream of living or working in the Sunshine State, the next few years could prove fruitful. Just watch this space!

New Australian Immigration Council Established

October 9th, 2009
Chris Evans establishes new immigration advisory council.

Chris Evans establishes new immigration advisory council.

Chris Evans, the Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has announced the launch of a new Council for Immigration Services and Status Resolution today.

The advisory council established by the Australian immigration department is there to help speed up the process by which immigrants and refugees statuses are established. They will also help Australian immigration officials to process Australian visas quicker and more effectively.

The council will also provide independent advice on government measures related to immigration policy initiatives.

The new council will take over from the Detention Advisory Group and will be meeting on the 21st October to identify priority issues that need addressing over the next two years.

Chris Evans stated: “the government’s focus is on resolving the immigration status of people quickly and fairly while ensuring they are treated humanely and with dignity and respect.�

“The council will provide independent advice on policies, services and programs to achieve timely, fair and effective resolution of immigration status for people seeking asylum or other migration outcomes in Australia.�

If you have an Australian immigration, visa or travel question that requires a speedy answer, join our friendly community today!

Immigrants to Australia Blamed for Population Explosion

September 19th, 2009
Population increase - good or bad?

Population increase - good or bad?

Immigrants to Australia and baby boomers are being blamed for a huge rise in the population estimates from 28.5 million in 2049 to an incredible 35 million.

Population critics are arguing that such a population explosion will have detrimental effects on Australia and will be hard to sustain financially. Professor Bob Birrell, from Monash University, criticised the government for not doing enough social planning to cope with the increase in population, saying: “The government doesn’t seem prepared to explore how we need to make social adjustments; rather, they are relying on the prop of bringing in more people of younger ages to essentially put all the older people to bed.�

However Kevin Rudd thinks that the increase signals exciting times for Australia. “I think it’s great that our population is growing, because so many countries around the world are shrinking, and that poses a real problem in terms of having a strong tax base for the future and a strong economy.�

The population levels seem to work for Australia as the country only accepts young, healthy immigrants to Australia who are going to make a positive contribution to the country’s economy. Obviously with young, healthy people you are also going to get more babies, who in turn will help keep Australia’s economy growing as they grow and enter the workplace.

This in turn, helps to provide for Australia’s ageing population. As without more taxpayers, then taxes would have to be raised to help pay for hospital care, pensions, doctor’s consultations and home care.

However the critics claim that such a population boost will also lead to drawbacks, with wildlife habitations under threat from increased urbanisation and the need for food production. Increased population also means an increase in carbon emissions. Labour MP Kelvin Thomson said that trying to cut carbon emissions whilst increasing population was like “trying to fight with both hands tied behind your back.�

Earlier this week the distinguished Australian author Tom Keneally defended the numbers of people immigrating to Australia, saying that the damage to the Australian environment had already been done and that immigrants added to the rich tapestry of Australian culture.

Figures for immigration to Australia are also down this year compared with last and the Australian Bureau of Statistics are recording a slow but steady decline in immigrants to Australia.

Australian Immigrants Face New Citizenship Test

September 18th, 2009
Changes in the Australian citizenship test prove controversial.

Changes in the Australian citizenship test prove controversial.

The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship are having to defend changes to their controversial Australian citizenship tests today.

The tests, introduced by the previous conservative government, quizzed immigrants on their knowledge of Australia. Now the Department of Immigration and Citizenship want to make it more relevant to today.

The current test questions applicants on their general knowledge of the country, including questions about famous cricketers. The new test will focus on the concepts of the Australian Citizenship Pledge including Australian rights and laws.

The test will also have two parts, a testable and non-testable section. The non-testable section will include information about Australia’s history, culture, sport and famous Aussies such as Dick Smith.

Senator Chris Evans, himself an immigrant to Australia from the UK, stated yesterday: “All prospective citizens should understand those concepts so all of the questions in the new citizenship test focus on the commitments that new citizens make in the pledge.�

“The test is also designed to assess whether applicants have a basic knowledge of the English language and will be conducted in English only.�

The test will take around 45 minutes to complete and the pass mark has been raised from 60% to 75%.

Critics of the tests condemned the changes as a waste of money and claim that they do not help immigrants to Australia integrate into society. Furthermore they believe that the tests discriminate against those migrants from a non-English speaking background.

The new test is expected to replace the old one as early as October. Applicants can find out more information on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s website.

Author Speaks Out in Defence of Australian Immigration

September 16th, 2009
Tom Keneally defends Australian immigration.

Tom Keneally defends Australian immigration.

The Australian author Tom Keneally launched an extraordinary defence of Australian immigration yesterday during the iQ2 debate in Sydney stating that without immigration Australia would become “less wealthy, less clever, less imaginative and less of a successful polity.�

The 74 year old author told a packed audience that the nation should be encouraging more people to immigrate to Australia, as Australian immigration makes the nation cleverer and wealthier.

Mr Keneally was responding to comments made by Tim Flannery who argued that too many people are immigrating to Australia and that this high immigration rate was having a detrimental effect on the environment and on labour.

Mr Keneally rubbished these claims, saying: “it is our misuse of the environment which has created our environment disasters.� He went on to say that early immigrants who brought in hoofed animals to Australia and started deforestation for grazing land were to blame, those early settlers who now form part of Australia’s ancestry. He said; “these, and not immigration, are to blame for the parlous condition of our environment.�

He also criticised those who blamed immigration for pressure on the labour market, saying that immigrants increased demand which then generated jobs.

His words will be warmly welcomed by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship who are currently campaigning to get more skilled workers to immigrate to Australia to fill in the huge gaps experienced in many skilled industries such as nursing and engineering. The points system for obtaining a working Australian visa is currently under review, with the Department of Immigration expected to announce the changes next month.

Mr Keneally also attacked the racial argument against immigration, naming many famous Australians who had Jewish, Asian and Eastern European backgrounds, such as the painter Judy Cassab who was born in Austria and Frank Knopfemacher the famous Australian intellectual who was born of a Jewish family in Vienna. Mr Keneally stated: “Imagine had the apostles of social cohesion and immigration limitation and reduction got their way. The reality of immigration proved to be the polar opposite of what was feared.

Mr Keneally did however praise the inclusiveness of Australia, citing as an example the fact that Australia has the highest level of ethnic inter-marriage in the world. He claims that immigration has enriched the community and created wealth, cleverness and imagination.

As Australian Citizenship Day approaches, Tom Keneally’s words should ring out loud and clear, because it is the very essence of immigration that has shaped the way Australia is today. That Australia is so diverse, so talented and so fascinating is largely thanks to the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who head for Australia every year. If you fancy being one of those people, have a look at our Australian visa guide and chat to the members of our friendly community to find out what life is really like down under.

Skippy FilmMaker Gets Australian Passport

September 16th, 2009
Skippy, probably the biggest Australian export since Fosters.

Skippy, probably the biggest Australian export since Fosters.

The man who has breathed new life into Skippy the bush kangaroo, Stephen Oliver, finally becomes an Australian citizen tomorrow in a day of celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of Australian Citizen Day.

British born Stephen was approached by a Perth production house who wanted him to make a documentary about the bush kangaroo. The result is a heartwarming, touching and funny reminiscence about the television series that captured worldwide attention. The documentary will air on ABC1 on Thursday at 8.30pm Australian time.

Of his citizenship ceremony, Stephen Oliver commented: “It will be a big Aussie day for me!�

He revealed that in one of his letters to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship he mentioned that he was working on a documentary about Skippy. The Department called him the very next day offering to bring his citizenship ceremony forward.

“Many friends used to joke to me that making a documentary about Skippy was about as Aussie as you could get and they should just give you a passport for that – and it has almost turned out to be the case.�

Australian citizenship first came into being in 1949 as a validification of the Nationality and Citizenship Act. Before the Act was introduced, most Australian residents were British subjects. Tomorrow will see more than 4500 people from 120 countries becoming Australian citizens.

Senator Chris Evans from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship said that the day allowed Australians to reflect on what it is to be Australian. “The 60th anniversary of Australian citizenship is an opportunity for us to reflect on the changes that have shaped our nation over the past 60 years.�

Citizenship ceremonies will take place in most cities across Australia tomorrow including Victoria, where the first US Ambassador to Hanoi after the Vietnam War will become a citizen and Adelaide Zoo will welcome 25 conferees who will also be getting their Australian passports.

Why not share your memories of Skippy the bush kangaroo with us? Just type your comments in the comments box at the end of this page, it couldn’t be easier!

Australian Government Protects Migrant Workers

September 14th, 2009
Temporary workers in Australia benefit from greater rights.

Temporary workers in Australia benefit from greater rights.

New laws come into effect today that will protect the rights of all workers migrating to Australia on worker visas.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship announced the proposed changes earlier this month in order to safeguard the thousands of temporary workers who enter Australia on working visas.

From today all workers who migrate to Australia will be entitled to the minimum rate of pay and will enjoy the same rights as working Australian citizens.

The Australian Taxation Office will be able to share information with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to ensure that migrant workers receive fair salary levels. Other enforcement bodies will also be able to share information, including the Fair Work Ombudsman and health and safety agencies.

The new laws mean thousands of workers are now entitled to backpay, such as the three Filipino nursing assistants in 2008 who had subclass 457 visas and were being underpaid by a healthcare recruiting agenc. They managed to successfully sue the company for $15,000 owed in backpay and the company were also fined $48,000.

For companies already employing migrant workers, the new laws mean that they are obliged to start paying their workers the market rate from 1 January 2010 at the very latest. All new workers entering on subclass 457 visas will be entitled to receive market rates as from today.

In order to enforce the new laws, specially trained investigative officers will be able to monitor and visit workplaces. Any company found in breach of the laws will be liable to be fined up to $33,000.

It’s a stern warning from the government, who want to bring in more migrant workers to fill the gaps that still exist in skilled work, especially in Western Australia. It’s also a boost for workers thinking of migrating to Australia for work, but who had previously been put off by tales of unsafe working conditions and low pay.

If you are considering working in Australia, have a look at our visa section to find out what you’ll need. And if you join our community, you’ll be able to benefit from first class advice from our many experts as well as being able to chat to others already out there and who can give you the lowdown on working in Australia.

Australian Immigration Review Sees Changes to Skills List

September 12th, 2009
Changes to the skills list will affect workers migrating to Australia

Changes to the skills list will affect workers migrating to Australia

Changes to the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL) and the Critical Skills List (CSL) are expected soon as the Australian Department of Immigration releases its second issues paper that details what changes workers migrating to Australia might experience.

The review paper, lead jointly by the Department of Education, Employment and Workforce Relations and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, examined the MODL to determine how a new methodology and structure can better serve the needs of the Australian labour market.

The full review of the MODL and CSL are expected next month, but a huge overhaul of both lists is expected. However the government have stated that any review will not affect the Employer Nominated Scheme or the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme.

The government have already hinted that the Critical Skills List will be phased out and it now looks as though both the MODL and CSL will be replaced with a Future Skills list that will assess those workers wishing to migrate to Australia with regards to high value skills.

The review states that a Future Skills List would take into account the future needs of the Australian economy, appropriateness of migration to address particular skills needs and issues in the local labour market including training initiatives.

The Australian migration points system will also come under review.

The changes are expected to be announced next month but the government have indicated that they will stagger any changes to ensure a smooth transition.

Here at Embrace Australia we’ll bring you the latest changes as they happen and will explain what this means to you. Sign up now to receive all the latest news as it happens.

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