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FURTHER official interest rate rises could choke off consumer spending and grind the economy to a halt, economists warn.

Herston Economics chief economist Clifford Bennett says if the Reserve Bank raises the cash rate to five per cent by year’s end, the economy would “grind to a standstill”.

The current cash rate is 4.25 per cent, after the RBA lifted the rate by a quarter of a percentage point on Tuesday in an effort to further rein in expansionary pressures.

It was the fifth monthly interest rate rise by the central bank since October last year.

“If the cash rate gets to 5 per cent … the domestic economy will grind to a standstill,” Mr Bennett said.

“We’re seeing in the Sydney press examples of them having to choose between buying groceries and paying their electricity bill and the added burden from the RBA is completely unwarranted, unnecessary and unwanted.”

RBA governor Glenn Stevens said it was appropriate to raise the cash rate towards its long-run average given that “the risk of serious economic contraction

Most economists say the average long-run cash rate is around 5 per cent.

Nomura Australia economist Stephen Roberts said rising interest rates meant consumers were paying a greater proportion of their income in servicing debt.

Data compiled by the central bank showed that when the cash rate was 3.75 per cent at the and of the December quarter of 2009, the average household was paying more than 10 per cent of its income, minus taxes and some other regular payments, on interest payments.

When the cash rate topped 18 per cent in December 1989, the average household was spending just under nine per cent of its income on interest payments.

The figures also show that in December quarter of 1989, household debt was slightly less than half household yearly income.

Twenty years later it was equal to one and a half times an average household’s yearly income.

“That data is from fourth quarter (2009) and you have to remember we’ve had two more interest rate rises already,” Mr Roberts said.

He said a lower interest rate of 3.75 per cent to 4 per cent would be more appropriate given the current difference between the cash rate and the interest rates of major lenders.

Official economic data now points to a slowing economy, with building approvals, employment and retail sales data for March all coming in under market expectations.

Mr Bennett said the data suggested Australia’s economic performance post the global financial crisis was weaker than first thought.

“When you look at the domestic economy, there are patchy elements,” he said.

“There are storm clouds on the horizon.”

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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Business has warned that West Australians could be priced out of the resources boom and interest rates pushed even higher if the Federal Opposition follows through with a promise to slash the number of immigrants.

WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief economist John Nicolaou said the flagged cut would mean the abandonment of major developments by companies unable to find the workers they need to exploit the State’s natural resources.

He was backed by Trade Minister Simon Crean who said cutting immigration now would devastate economies like that of WA and Queensland which were crying out for workers.

The Opposition has signalled cutting the net immigration intake which, when temporary workers and students are taken into account, edged down to 297,000 in the three months to the end of September.

Shadow immigration minister Scott Morrison said forecasts of Australia’s population reaching 36 million by 2050 proved immigration under the Rudd Government was “out of control”.

He said a coalition government would bring immigration levels back to a “sustainable level”.

But Mr Nicolaou said with WA needing 400,000 people over the coming decade to deal with the resources boom, cutting immigration levels could prove economically disastrous to the State.

He said major resource companies would go overseas if they could not get the labour they needed in Australia.

Those that did continue work in WA would have to pay higher wages for their staff, which would then push up costs for the rest of the community.

“I think it’s very short-sighted if they’re looking at cutting immigration, because it’s going to push up costs for everyone through wages going up,” he said.

“We lost investment in the last boom because there were insufficient workers, and we run the risk of doing that again.”

Professor Peter Mc Donald of the Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute also warned that trying to cap immigration levels would have major economic ramifications for people already living in Australia. The Reserve Bank was already lifting interest rates to dampen demand.

“You’re just going to push up wages pressures and that will feed into higher interest rates,” he said.

Mr Crean said the resource States would be disadvantaged if the number of workers was artificially restricted.

“Mining companies generally are saying one of the biggest challenges they face … is the availability of skilled labour,” he said. “People calling for cuts to immigration programs ought to understand how the economy is functioning.” 

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, today welcomed the final report of the Baird Review on the legislation governing international education.

It is most pleasing to note Mr Baird’s support for the Rudd Government’s changes to the skilled migration program announced on 8 February 2010.

The skilled migration program changes will encourage overseas students to focus on obtaining a quality education from a high quality provider by removing incentives for students to apply for a course simply in the hope of being granted permanent residence.

Under the changes, the wide-ranging migration occupations in demand list was revoked and will be replaced mid-year by a new and more targeted skilled occupations list to be developed by the independent body, Skills Australia.

The new skilled occupations list will be tightly focused on high value skills that will assist in addressing Australia’s future skills needs. It will deliver a mix of skills across the professions and trades in areas such as healthcare, engineering and mining.

International students currently studying in Australia who hold a vocational, higher education or postgraduate student visa will still be able to apply for permanent residence if their occupation is on the new skilled occupations list.

Students currently studying a course in an occupation that is not on the new skilled occupations list will have until the end of 2012 to apply for a temporary skilled graduate visa which will enable them to spend up to 18 months in Australia to acquire work experience and find an Australian employer willing to sponsor them.

It must be remembered that a student visa is just that: a visa to study. It does not give someone an automatic entitlement to permanent residence.

International students should be focused on obtaining a good qualification from a quality education provider in a field in which they want to work. The changes will in no way impact on international students coming to Australia to gain a legitimate qualification and then return home.

Similarly, Australia’s migration program is not and should not be determined by the courses studied by international students.

Australia will continue to welcome international students and provide an opportunity for those who have the necessary qualifications and skills to find an Australian employer willing to sponsor them for a permanent visa.

Source  :  www.immigov.au

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When thinking about working as a nurse in Australia there are a few things to consider. Below is some advice about nursing jobs, and other useful tips for working in the nursing industry in Australia. 

THE BACKBONE of many major city hospitals in Australia is provided by overseas nurses.  The growing pressures of an ageing population means that non-residents are in high demand.

Those aged 18-30 will not only find it relatively easy to get work, but discover they are highly valued by agencies and hospitals alike.

However, before you take the plunge, there is much to consider – you will need the right sort of visa and there are strict rules about what you can do and how long you can work for.

Nursing Types

THERE are several types of nurse that can enrol in Australia: registered nurses, enrolled nurses, assistants in nursing, wardsmen, orderlies, registered midwives and disabilities support workers.

All specialities within these areas are currently being hired, but there is a particularly high demand for intensive care and theatre nurses at the moment.

All jobs require experience – the minimum is six months full-time for registered staff – but it is generally more than 12 months for agency workers. New graduates can apply directly to hospitals for work.

Registered nurses can earn in excess of $24-$34 per hour depending on experience and can also work under a 457 business visa.

Many agencies and hospitals offer sponsorship, but not all, so check their websites first.

For further information, interested candidates should check out www.immi.gov.au

Regulations

NURSES are required to register with the regulatory authority in the state or territory in which they intend to practice. All original documents are required for this registration, such as a transcript of training, character reference, diploma or degree certificate and registration fee.

All healthcare workers must have a national criminal record clearance and a working with children background check before they can start work. This is obtained on their behalf by the hospital or agency they work for.

NSW Health requires all workers including agency staff to provide written evidence of occupational assessment, vaccination and screening for specified diseases, before they can commence work in any public hospital. 

Working Holiday Makers

For a working holiday visa your start point is Form 1150, the application to participate in the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) programme.

The working holiday visa is available for one year, is electronic and visa holders can work for any one employer for six months or study for four months.

General Skills Migration

Nurses who wish to migrate to Australia under the General Skills Migration category need to have their qualification assessed before applying to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC).

This assessment is undertaken by the Australian Nursing Council Incorporated (ANCI).
Overseas nurses can work in Australia without achieivng Australian registration as assistants in nursing.
Once workers leave Australia for good they can claim back their superannuation and tax.

USEFUL LINKS FOR WORKING AS A NURSE IN AUSTRALIA

www.ntmedic.com.au

www.247nursing.com.au

www.healthcareaustralia.com.au

www.in2nursing.com.au 

Source  :  www.bbmlive.com

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Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens has signalled interest rates are on their way back up with mortgage rates likely to edge up between half and a full percentage point.

Giving evidence to the House of Representatives economics committee in Canberra, Mr Stevens said the RBA’s focus continued to be on what mortgage rates were offered by commercial banks rather than on the Reserve’s official cash rate.

He said given the commercial banks had lifted rates over and above what the RBA had done, there was still about a half and a full percentage point to go before mortgage rates were back to what the Reserve would consider close to their long term average.

“There’s a little distance to go yet before I think you could characterise the setting of interest rates as normal or average,” he said.

The RBA surprised markets by leaving official rates on hold at its February meeting.

Mr Stevens said on top of the Reserve’s own lift in official rates, the commercial banks actions had effectively delivered three and a half interest rate rises to mortgages cases, and in the case of Westpac customers, four rate hikes.

He said one of the advantages of lifting rates as the RBA did in the last three months of 2009 was that it could hold rates in February and get a clearer picture of how the economy was travelling.

“You get that luxury when you can wait a little a bit further down the line,” he said.

Mr Stevens said Australia had performed much better than even the RBA had expected out of the global recession.

But he warned that meant the economy was now heading into an upswing stronger than otherwise would have been the case.

“With the economy having had only a mild downturn with begin the upswing with less spare capacity than would typically be the case after a recession,” he said.

“There’s less scope for robust demand growth without inflation starting to rise again down the track.

“Monetary policy must be careful not to overstay a very expansionary setting.”

Mr Stevens said the resources sector in particular was looking to grow quickly, with the terms of trade likely to head back to the record highs seen in 2008 this year.

He also highlighted the strength of Australia’s sovereign debt position, hosing down fears the country was carrying too much debt.

“Australia’s position is by any measure very strong indeed,” he said.

The governor also played down fears raised by Opposition finance spokesman Barnaby Joyce that Australia could default on its debts.

Mr Stevens said Australia had never defaulted before and there were no signs it would now.

“I very much doubt there ever will be,” he said. 

“Monetary policy must be careful not to overstay a very expansionary setting.”

Mr Stevens said the resources sector in particular was looking to grow quickly, with the terms of trade likely to head back to the record highs seen in 2008 this year.

He also highlighted the strength of Australia’s sovereign debt position, hosing down fears the country was carrying too much debt.

“Australia’s position is by any measure very strong indeed,” he said.

The governor also played down fears raised by Opposition finance spokesman Barnaby Joyce that Australia could default on its debts.

Mr Stevens said Australia had never defaulted before and there were no signs it would now.

“I very much doubt there ever will be,” he said.

Source www.thewest.com.au

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Cathay Pacific flights sale 2010: Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Perth, Melbourne & Sydney travel deals

Fly via Hong Kong to Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Perth, Melbourne or Sydney in April, May and June 2010 for from £689 return – Cathay Pacific’s flights sale is on until 16 February 2010.

Cathay Pacific Australia flight sale prices: 

Cathay Pacific’s quality makes it worth considering the prices in the Hong Kong airline’s current flights sale. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have slightly better prices on roughly the same dates, but it is arguably worth paying the extra £20 or £30 – particularly if you fancy a Hong Kong stopover or are flying to cities other than Sydney.

The Cathay Pacific Australia and New Zealand flights sale is on until 16 February 2010. As part of it, return flights from London to Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth via Hong Kong cost from £689, while economy class tickets to Sydney, Cairns, Brisbane and Auckland in New Zealand cost from £699.

Cathay Pacific Australia flights sale: Terms and conditions:

The following are taken from the Cathay Pacific website:

Terms & conditions

  • Sale period: until 16 February 2010.
  • Fares are for travel from London Heathrow.
  • Offer valid on all CX operated flights.
  • The above displayed fares are valid for outbound travel in selected dates only: 06April – 15June 2010. For travel in other periods fares may differ.
  • Stay: 5 days minimum / 1 year maximum.
  • Dates Changes: Outbound- Not Permitted.  Inbound – Permitted GBP50.
  • On changing the outbound travel date when permitted, if the itinerary results in a higher fare then difference applies along with the date change fee. If the itinerary results in a lower fare then the date change fee still applies and no refund will be made.
  • Name changes are not allowed.
  • Cancellations/Refunds: Non refundable. Cancellation fee £200. No-show: nil refund.
  • Fares are subject to change without prior notice.
  • Other Terms and Conditions apply.
  • The fares detailed in the offer/promotion are subject to availability and offered on a first come, first served basis. The limited number of seats for the subject fare allocated to a particular flight may be fully booked although seats are still available in other fare types in the same class of travel.

Note: The fares displayed include taxes, fees and surcharges, which are subject to change at the time of booking due to currency fluctuations. 

Source  :  www.australiaflightbargains.com

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From 1 January 2010, as part of the skills assessment process for certain onshore GSM applicants who nominate a trade occupation, applicants will be required to demonstrate that they are ‘job ready’. This new requirement will be assessed through the Job Ready Program (previously referred to as the JobReady Test). The Job Ready Program has been developed by the relevant assessing authority, Trades Recognition Australia (TRA), in consultation with industry and unions and will include a workplace assessment by a TRA approved assessor.
The new job ready requirement will ensure that people who wish to migrate to Australia as skilled migrants in trade occupations are able to participate in the labour market in the area of their skills and knowledge. Applicants nominating a trade occupation who apply for certain onshore General Skilled Migration (GSM) visas on or after 1 January 2010 will be required to meet the job ready requirement as part of the skills assessment process. This requirement will enhance current skills assessment arrangements for onshore applicants and complement the existing offshore assessment processes.   
Which occupations and visas will be subject to the new job ready requirement?
 
 

Applicants wishing to migrate to Australia under one of the below visa subclasses and in an allowable trade occupation will be required to satisfy the Job Ready Program’s requirements as part of the skills assessment process. This requirement will apply for applications lodged on or after 1 January 2010.
 
 

Visa subclasses
 
 

The following visa subclasses are subject to the job ready requirement:
 
 

  1. Skilled – Independent (Residence) Visa (Subclass 885)
  2. Skilled – Sponsored (Residence) Visa (Subclass 886)
  3. Skilled – Regional Sponsored (Provisional) Visa (Subclass 487)
A list of trade occupations available under the GSM program is available on the department’s website. 

 See: Form 1121i Skilled Occupation List (SOL) and Employer Nomination Scheme Occupation List (ENSOL)

What is the purpose of the job ready requirement?
 
 

A key aim of the GSM program is to provide ‘job ready’ applicants to Australian employers. Job ready migrants are more likely to find employment quickly, which leads to improved settlement outcomes for them.
Assessment through the Job Ready Program ensures that applicants for skilled migration have the skills and knowledge to perform their nominated occupation within the Australian workplace.   
Frequently asked questions
How do I find out if my trade occupation requires me to satisfy the job ready requirement?
 

To determine if your occupation requires you to be assessed under the job ready requirement, that is, the Job Ready Program, you can refer to Form 1121i.
 
 

See: 
Occupations listed as Tradespersons and related workers that are in the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) are required to meet the new requirement. You may also wish to contact the relevant assessing authority for your occupation to determine what is required as part of your skills assessment.  
I lodged my General Skilled Migration (GSM) visa application for permanent migration before 1 January 2010 and have not yet received my skills assessment. Am I required to meet the job ready requirement?
 
 

No. If your application was lodged before 1 January 2010, you are not required to meet the job ready requirement as part of your skills assessment provided your application is for a permanent GSM visa. The requirement applies to applications lodged on or after 1 January 2010 only.
 
 

I am currently on a Subclass 485 visa and have not yet applied for a permanent GSM visa. Will I be required to meet the job ready requirement as I already hold a suitable skills assessment obtained when applying for my Subclass 485 visa?
 
 

If you currently hold a Subclass 485 visa but have not applied for a permanent onshore GSM visa by 1 January 2010, you will be required to obtain a new skills assessment which demonstrates that you are job ready if applicable to your occupation. This will be the case if your trade occupation requires you to provide a skills assessment dated on or after 1 January 2010.
If you are not required to submit a skills assessment dated on or after 1 January 2010 as it is not required for your occupation, you are able to submit an existing skills assessment should you wish to do so.
 

Why do I need to submit a skills assessment dated on after 1 January 2010 if I am required to meet the job ready requirement?
 
 

You will need to provide the department with a skills assessment dated on or after 1 January 2010 if you are required to meet the job ready requirement to ensure your skills have been assessed as ‘job ready’. Skills assessments issued prior to 1 January 2010 have not been assessed against the job ready requirement, while those issued after 1 January 2010 do. 
  
 

 

I am in a trade occupation and applying for an onshore GSM visa (Subclass 487, 885 or 886). Will I be required to meet the job ready requirement from 1 January 2010?
 
 

Yes. If you are nominating a trade occupation, you will need to meet the job ready requirement as part of your skills assessment from 1 January 2010. Applicants who are not applying for a trade occupation will not be required to do so.
 
 

I am applying in a trade occupation through one of the offshore GSM visas. Will I need to satisfy the job ready requirement as part of my skills assessment?
 
 

No. If you are applying for an offshore GSM visa, you will not be required to satisfy the job ready requirement as part of your skills assessment. However, if your occupation is a trade occupation, you will no longer be able to apply to migrate to Australia under the GSM program based on meeting the Australian study requirement. Instead, you must have at least 12 months of work experience in a skilled occupation within the 24 months before you apply in order to qualify for a visa grant.
More information can be found on the department’s website.
 

See: 
How does this affect me making an application for a Subclass 485 visa?
 
 

Applicants for a Subclass 485 visa are unaffected by the introduction of the job ready requirement. Applicants for a Subclass 485 visa will still be required to obtain a skills assessment from the relevant assessing authority before the Subclass 485 visa can be granted. For trade occupations, TRA will still issue skills assessments suitable for applying for a Subclass 485 visa.
 
 

Does this mean my old TRA skills assessment is no longer valid?
 
 

The changes only affect the requirements for the onshore permanent GSM visas in trade occupations. TRA assessments conducted before 1 January 2010 would continue to satisfy the requirements for the onshore lodgement of an application for a Subclass 485 visa, as well as for applications for Subclass 175, 176 and 475 visas. The assessments would also satisfy the department’s requirements for any of the employer sponsored category of visas.
 
 

Where I can find more information regarding the skills assessment process and the Job Ready Program?
 
 

Information regarding the skills assessment process and the Job Ready Program itself should be directed to the relevant assessing authority. For trade occupations, the relevant assessing authority is Trades Recognition Australia.
 
 

See:  Trades Recognition Australia   
Changes to Offshore GSM Applicants Seeking to Meet the Australian Study Requirement from 1 January 2010  

 

 Form 1121i Skilled Occupation List (SOL) and Employer Nomination Scheme Occupation List (ENSOL)  

 

 

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