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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 10 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 3160..


MR STEFANIAK: I ask a supplementary question. I thank the Chief Minister for that answer. Would you provide up-to-date figures of the total costs of the appeal to date, including how much we actually get back on insurance, by close of business today?

MR STANHOPE: I am happy to provide those costs, but not by close of business today.

Business migration program

MS MacDONALD: My question is to the Minister for Economic Development and Business, Mr Quinlan. Minister, last month you launched the ACT skilled and business migration program. Can you report to the Assembly on the response to the new program since its inception and on the number of applications that have been approved to date?

MR QUINLAN: I thank Ms MacDonald for her question. I think members of this Assembly would be aware that there is a skills shortage. It is a national skills shortage and not unique to the ACT but, nevertheless, it impacts on the ACT. We are at that point in the economic cycle where there is a very tight labour market. This government has reacted by providing additional funds for vocational education training in the last couple of budgets. We put $10 million into the University of Canberra to develop our allied health professionals to try to meet shortages in those areas. Those shortages have been identified by the federal Department of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, and are virtually at the top of their list of current migration occupations in demand.

This government has resurrected its skilled and business migration program after some of the difficulties that have occurred have been cleaned up and put to rest. I am very happy to advise the Assembly that the response to our program, and to our seeking skilled migrants and business migration, has been very positive. In attracting immigrants, we know there will be both economic and social benefits for the territory. We have had over 60 skilled and business migration applications since the launch of the program on 12 July. So, in the space of a month, there have been 60 applications, with 29 of the applications being certified for permanent residence under the regional sponsored migration scheme.

The occupations designated as having a skills shortage range from academia, research and ICT through to health professionals. The top three countries of origin are the UK, Germany and Russia. Fifteen overseas employees have been certified under temporary long-stay business visas in hospitality, health and construction. The countries of origin of these are the Philippines, Brazil and, once again, Germany. On the business side, 17 applications have been sponsored under the business-owners scheme. It is worth noting that all of those business applications are from China. They include retail, alternative medicine, property development, design and printing and tourism.

I think members can see that the work that is being done is bearing fruit, and will continue to bear fruit, and will in its own way contribute to solving the problem we have with skills shortages. I made the point at a media interview today that addressing skills shortages is not the sole province of government. There is a responsibility on the part of industry and commerce for them to continue to develop skills. I think it has become fairly clear over the last decade or more that industry, in terms of traineeships and


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