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70,200 new migrants under 1999-2000 program

Australia's Migration (Non-Humanitarian) Program has again been delivered very close to target with the outcome of the 1999-2000 Program coming in at 70,200 visas, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, announced today.

Mr Ruddock said there were 35,330 visas granted in the Skill Stream, which is the highest level since 1991-92. This represents more than 50 per cent of the program.

At the same time, the program maintained a strong commitment to family reunion with 32,000 visas granted in the Family Stream (46 per cent of the total Program). Spouses, fiances and children of Australian citizens and permanent residents took up 28,490 visas (89 per cent) of the Family Stream places. Parents took up a total of 1,900 places (6 per cent).

"The Business Skills category continues to grow with 3 per cent more visas granted in 1999-00," Mr Ruddock added.

"There has also been a strong response to the new points tested Independent category introduced on 1 July 1999 with nearly 12,400 people applying in 1999-00."

The new points test includes the key employability criteria applicable to skilled migrants, covering skills recognition, age and English language ability. It adds a greater degree of labour market targeting through the use of the Skilled Occupation List and the Migration Occupations in Demand List.

"The continued emphasis on skilled migration reinforces the Government's commitment to maintaining the improvements already achieved in the economic, budgetary and employment impact of immigration," Mr Ruddock said.

"Such improvements have done much to restore the community's confidence in the Migration Program over the past few years.

"This has been further strengthened by this Government's ability to manage the program within the parameters set at the beginning of each year," Mr Ruddock said.

Mr Ruddock said that the ability to deliver the program on target and with the desired balance contrasts considerably with other migration countries such as Canada and New Zealand where the actual outcomes (visas granted) have varied from the announced programs by as much as 20 per cent under target in recent years.

(New Zealand's 1999-2000 target was 38,000. At a final figure of 36,259 it was 3.9% below target. Canada's target was in the range 200-225,000. No final figure was available).

The Minister added that there has been an encouraging increase in the number of migrants coming under State specific migration mechanisms. The total of 3,309 visa grants was 18 per cent higher than in 1998-99.

"The Government has been working towards achieving a better dispersal of migrants around the country and to help employers in regional Australia meet skill shortages that can't be filled from the local labour market," Mr Ruddock said.

"I continue to encourage State and Territory governments, employers and regional authorities to make greater efforts to use these mechanisms that have been developed for them," Mr Ruddock said.

[Source: Ministerial Press Release MPS 077/2000]

For tables showing a breakdown of figures for each category for 1998-99 and 1999-00 go to - www.minister.immi.gov.au

See also www.australia.org.nz

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