David Coleman, Australia’s newest immigration minister, has stated his priority is regional immigration.
The new immigration minister has flagged a revamp of regional visas to get migrants to struggling regional communities, saying some towns are begging for migrants.
He highlighted Warrnambool in Victoria, the Goldfields area of Western Australia and the entire state of South Australia as regions seeking migrants, to fulfill economic needs,” he said.
“We have quite a few regional gaps in employment right now.”
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Currently, there are several visas open to migrants to fill skills shortages in rural and regional Australia.
“There are a number of different regional visa classes at the moment and one of the things I’m assessing is the effectiveness of each of those programs and potential ways of improving those.”
According to figures compiled by the Department of Home Affairs, 10,918 places were awarded under the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme in the 2016-17 financial year.
Along with the 1,670 Skilled Regional visas, they formed about 10 percent of permanent migration visas.
The minister also touched on the issue of Australian citizenship. While he didn’t go into specifics about the government’s plans to toughen the requirements to become a citizen, he highlighted the importance of learning English.
“Having some English is obviously a good thing in Australian life,” he said.
“The more English people are able to speak, the more they can contribute in Australian life.”
Minister Coleman said the government was “in consultations” about re-introducing elements of the legislation.