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The latest statistics confirm Australia’s net overseas migration (NOM) level is on track to drop by about 20 per cent by the end of the financial year in response to government reforms to temporary and permanent migration and economic conditions, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said today.

Preliminary estimates released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) ‘Social Trends’ series show the level of NOM in 2008 was 301 200 people and fell to 277 700 people in 2009.

‘Based on current visa application numbers, the level of NOM is on track to drop to between 230 000 and 250 000 people by the end of the financial year,’ Senator Evans said.

‘This confirms that record high population growth has been fuelled by growth in temporary long-stay migrants, especially students, as a result of the policies of the previous coalition government.’

Senator Evans said net overseas migration began to climb and get out of control under the previous government, as a result of its decision to open up pathways for temporary residents—particularly students—to remain in Australia permanently.

In response to the ABS report’s findings, Senator Evans said the level of NOM—which includes both permanent migrants and long-term temporary migrants, including students—had peaked and was clearly on the way down.

‘The government is committed to ongoing forward-planning and reform to ensure immigration levels are guided by Australia’s needs and not by the desire of prospective migrants to come to Australia,’ Senator Evans said.

‘Prime Minister Gillard has already articulated her vision for a sustainable population—one that supports our environment and our renewable resources and that is in turn supported by proper resources and infrastructure.’

The government will develop policies to ensure all Australians benefit from our strong and growing economy.’

Source  :  http://www.minister.immi.gov.au/media/media-releases/2010/ce10055.htm

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Two of Perth’s western suburbs are all that stood between a total eastern states domination of Australia’s premium property markets last year.

Figures released by property analysts RP Data show Nedlands and Cottesloe as the only two non-Sydney or Melbourne suburbs to make the top 20 areas for $1 million-plus house sales last year.

The recovery from the global financial crisis showed in the figures.

There were 122 such sales in Nedlands, placing it 10th nationally, while Cottesloe (15th) clocked up 106 settlements.

The number of sales in Nedlands was a record for the suburb, six higher than in 2007 and almost double that of 2008.

But Cottesloe, while recording an almost 50 per cent increase on the previous year, was 15 short of its 2007 record.

Meanwhile, the seemingly never-ending building of apartment buildings in Earth Perth saw it top the state for sales of $1m-plus units.

The suburb shared the honour with South Perth. Both had 33 sales, placing them 17th nationally.

The number of East Perth sales was also a record for the suburb, beating the previous best of 32, in 2007.

That year, there were a record 52 $1m-plus unit sales in South Perth.

The inner-city Sydney suburb of Pyrmont topped the list, with 95 units sold, while just a few kilometres north, Mosman led the country for house sales, with 271 recorded.

RP Data national research director Tim Lawless said premium property markets generally provided stronger capital gains, mainly due to “inherently tight supply”.

However, they could be tricky for investors because rental yields were much lower, leading to cash flow issues.

Source  :  www.watoday.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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There’s more pain on the way for Australia’s borrowers with the Reserve Bank today raising interest rates for the third time in as many months.

As widely tipped, the central bank lifted its key cash rate by 25 basis points to 3.75 per cent following its monthly board meeting. It’s the first time the RBA has lifted rates three months in a row. (Click here for economists’ reaction, including Michael Pascoe and Peter Martin.)

”In Australia, the downturn was relatively mild, and measures of confidence and business conditions suggest that the economy is in a gradual recovery,” RBA Governor Glenn Stevens said in a statement accompanying the rates verdict. The central bank’s ”gradual” increases in rates will ”work to increase the sustainability of growth in economic activity,” he said.

For a typical mortgage holder on a $300,000 mortgage, today’s rate rise will add about $47 to monthly repayments, assuming commercial banks match the RBA’s move. Officials for most of the major banks this afternoon said their rates policies were under review.

The Reserve Bank has made regular public comments in recent weeks that it sees no need to keep interest rates at ”emergency” levels as the economy rebounds from a slowdown during the past year. Ric Battelino, the RBA’s deputy governor, last week said the economy’s growth is likely to extend ”for a few more years yet.”

More to rises come

Still, the economic data continue to provide mixed readings. A measure of manufacturing activity in November out today showed the sector continues to grow with companies adding jobs, although the stronger Australian dollar slowed the pace of expansion.

Overall building approvals, meanwhile, surprisingly fell 0.6 per cent in October, according to other figures out today. A 5 per cent gain in approvals for private homes was countered by a 19 per cent drop in permits for flats and townhouses.

Even with today’s rate increase, the Reserve Bank’s efforts to tighten monetary policy are likely to be far from over.

”The big change in this statement was their reference to the increases so far as being material,” ANZ’s head of Australian economics Warren Hogan told Reuters.

”I read that as implying that they’re ready to now sit back and watch how these increases affect the economy. And the hurdle for further rate hikes will be much higher than we have seen so far.

“So I think our view that they’re going to 4 (per cent), 4.25 then sit there for much of the year is the right one. There’s every chance they’ll do it in February and March, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s dragged out over a number of months.”

JP Morgan’s Chief Economist Stephen Walters agreed that the RBA may make it four rate rises in a row: “With inflation likely to creep up, and the worst in the economy having passed, there is no need to keep rates at very expansionary levels.”

“We think they will again lift rates in February,” Mr Walters

said. ”The RBA does not meet in January, but I think they will hike when they return after the break. The word ‘gradual’ is still there in the RBA statement and I think they will start going slow in lifting after February.”

Before today’s move, investors were betting that rates would rise to at least 4.75 per cent in a year’s time – equivalent to four more rate rises over the period. Three weeks ago, however, the betting was for rates to rise to 5.25 per cent, indicating confidence in the economy’s strength has recently diminished.

The RBA’s board is not scheduled to meet again until next February.

Political view

Treasurer Wayne Swan said the rate rise would pinch household funds.

”This is tough for families…when rates go up it has an impact on the family budget,” Mr Swan told reporters.

He took aim at old comments from new Opposition Leader Tony Abbott that the government’s billion-dollar stimulus had led to interest rates rises.

”That is laughable and it comes from a political leader who is prone to making erratic statements,” Mr Swan said.

”Mr Abbott is in denial of the fact that this country has performed well in the global recession.”

Even with the latest jump, these rates were last seen in 1967, Mr Swan said.

Mild downturn

A year ago, the Reserve Bank was in the midst of a series of deep interest rate cuts as Australia joined other countries in attempting to limit the damage from the global financial crisis.

Last December, the RBA sliced one full percentage point from its cash rate, lowering it to 4.25 per cent on the way to a fifty year-low of 3 per cent by April. After a pause, the central bank has started to lift rates back towards more normal levels as fears of an economic crunch abate.

”The effects of the early stages of the fiscal stimulus on consumer demand are fading, but public infrastructure spending is starting to provide more impetus to demand,” Mr Stevens said in his statement today.

The jobless rate has been one of the surprises, with Australia’s unemployment holding well below 6 per cent when many had predicted a level in excess of 8 per cent. Business investment has also held up well in large measure due to the sharp rebound in China and India – leaving Australia as one of the few countries to start raising rates.

”Prospects for ongoing expansion of private demand, including business investment, have been strengthening. There have been some early signs of an improvement in labour market conditions,” Mr Steven said. ”The rate of unemployment is now likely to peak at a considerably lower level than earlier expected.”

The RBA believes economic growth ”is likely to be close to trend (in 2010) and inflation close to target.

Market response

In the aftermath of the rates news, the Aussie dollar initially dropped before recovering to about 91.5 US cents in recent trading, close to its level before the RBA statement.

Shares, also turned mildly lower before recovering to be about 0.2 per cent higher for the day with less than an hour of trading left.

Source :   www.theage.com.au

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The new Australian citizenship test which assesses prospective new citizens on their understanding of Australian civics and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship commences Monday 19 October.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said the new test is based on the pledge of commitment that new Australians make when becoming citizens. Topics include Australia’s democratic beliefs, laws and government as well as the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship.

The 20 multiple-choice questions in the new test have been written in plain English and will be conducted in English only. All test questions have been drawn from the testable section of the revised citizenship test resource book, Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond, which was launched in September.

The new test is not a general knowledge quiz about Australia,’ Senator Evans said. ‘We want people applying for citizenship to understand the values of Australian society, our democratic beliefs, our rights and our system of law and what it means to be an Australian citizen. ‘All prospective citizens should understand those concepts so all of the questions in the new citizenship test focus on the commitments that new citizens make in the pledge.’

The new test was developed after an independent review of the old citizenship test last year found that it could be improved by focusing on the pledge of commitment. People will now need to answer 75 per cent per cent or 15 of the 20 questions correctly to pass – up from 60 per cent under the old test.

However, the mandatory questions have been removed to make the test fairer. All questions are now equally important and a person can no longer answer 19 out of 20 questions correctly and still fail the test because they answered one of the three mandatory questions incorrectly. A citizenship course is also under development to help a small group of disadvantaged people, who for a range of reasons, such as limited literacy and schooling, are likely to struggle when preparing for and sitting a formal computer-based test.

This will ensure that we encourage people to become citizens without the test being a barrier,’ Senator Evans said. The citizenship test resource book, Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond, and practice citizenship test are available online.

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WESTERN AUSTRALIA — The first gold has been poured and the initial copper concentrate shipment made at the Boddington mine belonging to Newmont Mining of Denver. At full production, this will be Australia’s largest gold mine.

The Boddington mine is a large open pit 130 km southeast of Perth within the Saddleback Greenstone Belt. Newmont believes Boddington has significant exploration potential, with gold reserves increasing from 16.6 million oz in 2007 to 20.1 million oz in 2008 and an expected mine life in excess of 24 years.

Source  :  www.canadianminingjournal.com

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IMMIGRATION officials are preparing a 50-year migration plan to ensure that intakes consider a range of long-term issues such as climate change, water needs and national security.

The Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Andrew Metcalfe, said yesterday the department was conducting a review of the nation’s migration needs to ensure a more rounded and visionary approach.

”In terms of the future, we are trying to lift ourselves away from year-to-year decisions to a 50-year vision,” he told the Australian and New Zealand School of Government conference in Canberra.

”We are trying to move away from an immigration department that is responsive to one that can help the government achieve long-term objectives … A long-term planning framework … is something whose time has come.”

Mr Metcalfe said a well-planned skilled migration program could contribute to Australia’s long-term economic, demographic and environmental goals.

”We want to ensure our skilled migration programs are responding to longer-term skill needs which cannot be addressed through domestic training and skills development,” he said.

”The question then is how we can best address shorter-term labour market requirements … It will be important that the skilled migrants we choose are not only young and healthy but also have a high level of education, language proficiency and other skills. This will ensure that skilled migration contributes both to labour force growth and to the productivity of our labour force.”

Mr Metcalfe said the review will include an examination of the points system used to select skilled migrants, known as the Migration Occupations in Demand List.

”The MODL is not as flexible as we would like to address a rapidly changing and uncertain global environment. In my view, one of themes of this century will be the increased mobility of people around the globe, and we need to manage this adroitly.”

But the Government has denied it has adopted a new policy towards asylum seekers in the wake of a decision this week to process a group of 10 Afghan children on the mainland rather than on Christmas Island.

”These are 10 unaccompanied minors and therefore what’s happened is that they’ve been transferred from Christmas Island to the mainland on September 2,” he said

Asked whether there had been a change of policy, the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said: ”Absolutely not.”

He told 3AW yesterday the group of 10 children had been transferred to the mainland because unaccompanied minors were given priority in processing.

”That’s what’s happening in the case of these minors,” he said. ”That’s why they’re treated separately.”

Source  :  www.smh.com.au

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