There had been speculation that the immigration target might be cut. In recent months, Australia's Labor government has turned immigration into an electoral issue in the run up to the general election this September. In February Mr O'Connor claimed that Australian firms had been abusing Australia's temporary skilled migration visa, the 457 visa, to employ poorly paid foreign workers at the expense of Australian job seekers. Prime Minister Julia Gillard also weighed in, saying that her government would 'put Aussie workers first'.
But the overall migration target has remained the same. Mr O'Connor has announced that 700 places will be shifted from the skilled migration category to the family migration category because demand is heavy.
Australia needs to balance economic and social objectives
Mr O'Connor released a statement on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) website in which he said 'The Gillard government's top priority will always be jobs for Australians. The permanent migration program is about getting the balance right between our economic and social objectives. Our migration program ensures skilled migrants will continue to fill critical gaps in regions and sectors with genuine skills shortages'.
Mr O'Connor's statement continued 'It is important that our skilled migration program is driven by genuine skills needs. Under the Gillard government, skilled migration to Australia will continue to be carefully targeted to ensure that migrants complement but do not replace the domestic labour force'.
He said 'Skilled migration continues to make up two thirds of the program because of its obvious benefits to our economy and society. Targeted skilled migration enables Australia's economy to grow by addressing skills gaps and bottlenecks'.
Global Visa Support offers a variety of programmes in Australia. Please visit our Australian page for more information: http://www.globalvisasupport.com/australia.html