Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 2 Hansard (8 March) . . Page.. 441..
MR QUINLAN (continuing):
do his homework and, if that statement is incorrect, will have the decency to correct the record.
The facts of the matter are that, when we instituted the skilled migration scheme, the plan said that quarterly and annual reports against these activities would go to the minister. So there will be reports to the minister. In fact, I get reports weekly. Given the volume of questions on notice that you guys seem to be able to churn out, if you had any interest in it other than during a debate on the topic, you might have asked.
To assist you and set your mind at ease, let me bring you up to date. To date, a total of 185 applications have been received, of which 154 have been for skilled migration; 31 for business migration; 141 skilled applications have been approved and five rejected, on the ground that they did not meet the certification criteria; 27 business sponsorships have been approved since July 2005; and 18 of these clients have had their permanent visa granted by DIMIA and are making arrangements to move to Canberra and commence business activities. So I think we are okay there. The scheme has been in place since July 2005. It was previously suspended. We had difficulties. Those difficulties have been sorted out, and I am very happy with the progress that has been made so far.
Mr Mulcahy also, as a prelude to some of his remarks, talked about the Howard 10 years and the economic strength of 10 years. I am pleased to note that in recent times more and more commentators are referring at least to the fact that maybe our strong economic position is more a result of fundamentals put in place by the Hawke-Keating regime, the strength of commodity markets and the strength of the world economy, which in fact is providing strong markets for basic commodities from Australia. From time to time, I scratch my head and wonder what these masterstrokes of economic management were that the Howard-Costello government put in place that have made the difference to Australia. I do not know what they are.
Mr Mulcahy: Debt reduction.
MR QUINLAN: Debt reduction. What about current account deficits? We are running a deficit, on current accounting.
A couple of points have been made. I will even agree with Mr Mulcahy that it does not fall within the purview of the ACT government to monitor each and every condition or the position of each worker. If you extend the logic of that, you would build a totally impracticable system. It just would not work if governments were trying to monitor everything that occurred in an over-the-shoulder process. Nevertheless, it is the case that the unions play a role in looking after the individual. In fact, since Senator Kate Lundy, who has had a great role in-
Mr Pratt: In undermining this.
MR QUINLAN: You are making funnies, Steve. Senator Lundy has applied and is applying pressure for the federal department to ensure that, when skilled migrants arrive, they are equipped with the basic package of information that lets them know what their rights are. The section 457 visa has a requirement that their sponsor pay award conditions.