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WA will be able to handpick permanent migrants to service the booming resources sector and other areas of critical need under a massive overhaul of the skilled migration program to be unveiled today.

Under the changes, Immigration Minister Chris Evans will revoke and refund 20,000 applications from would-be skilled migrants and instead give top priority to those who are sponsored by employers and States for high-level jobs.

The overhaul is geared towards making Australia’s skilled migration super-responsive to urgent shortfalls in qualified mining and health sector workers, while also tightening permanent visa criteria for overseas students studying courses in low skill occupations.

Senator Evans will immediately abolish the Migration Occupations in Demand List, which gazettes 106 areas of preferred workers, replacing it by April with a more targeted Skilled Occupations List drawn up by the independent Federal authority Skills Australia in consultation with the States and business.

It means doctors, nurses, engineers and high-value professions and trades will have priority over low-skilled workers such as hairdressers and chefs.

In WA, as yesterday’s Olivier Jobs Index showed, the most sought after workers are in engineering, trades and services, and building.

In a marked departure from the existing skilled migration scheme, States will be asked to draw up their own migration plans to allow fast-tracking of applications for migrants sponsored by States or companies for specific jobs.

The bar will be raised for unsponsored skilled migration applicants, with criteria such as proficiency in the English language, work experience and overseas qualifications to be made tougher.

The overall annual skilled migration intake will remain unchanged at 108,100 people.

The changes are likely to have a significant impact on the burgeoning multi-billion-dollar overseas student market where hundreds of thousands of foreign students have come to Australia to undergo trades training, enticed by the prospect of permanent residency.

The Government believes such courses are skewing the migration program, leaving new permanent residents with poor English and little prospect of finding work in their nominated field of expertise.

Foreign students in Australia studying in areas dumped from the new skilled occupation hit list will be given 18 months after completion of their studies to find sponsorship from an employer or sent home.

The Government believes the new regime will help the clampdown on unscrupulous migration agents, many of whom are Indian-based, who con students into believing completion of an Australian course gives automatic entitlement to permanent residence. 

The bar will be raised for unsponsored skilled migration applicants, with criteria such as proficiency in the English language, work experience and overseas qualifications to be made tougher.

The overall annual skilled migration intake will remain unchanged at 108,100 people.

The changes are likely to have a significant impact on the burgeoning multi-billion-dollar overseas student market where hundreds of thousands of foreign students have come to Australia to undergo trades training, enticed by the prospect of permanent residency.

The Government believes such courses are skewing the migration program, leaving new permanent residents with poor English and little prospect of finding work in their nominated field of expertise.

Foreign students in Australia studying in areas dumped from the new skilled occupation hit list will be given 18 months after completion of their studies to find sponsorship from an employer or sent home.

The Government believes the new regime will help the clampdown on unscrupulous migration agents, many of whom are Indian-based, who con students into believing completion of an Australian course gives automatic entitlement to permanent residence.

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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PERTH is to become a vibrant waterfront city, says Premier Colin Barnett, who today unveiled plans for a massive redevelopment featuring an inlet connecting the CBD and the river.

Mr Barnett plans to create a vibrant new area for the city and ‘finally’ connect the waterfront to the CBD.

The centrepiece will be a 2.8ha inlet that will bring the river back to near its original shore line. 

The inlet will be surrounded by landscaped terraces, boardwalks and promenades, and fringed by shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and other activities.

 “The Swan River – our greatest natural asset – is effectively cut ff from the city by Riverside Drive and by an expanse of lawn,” said Mr Barnett at today’s unveiling.

“Other major Australian cities have done far more with much less.  This will assist Perth to mature as a vibrant, sophisticated capital city, providing an attraction for locals and tourists.” By removing a section of Riverside Drive, the development encourages the use of public transport, taking advantage of the nearby Esplanade train station, Busport and commuter ferry services. Some changes to existing roads will be made to create more pedestrian-friendly routes.

Mr Barnett was joined by Planning Minister John Day,Tourism Minister Liz Constable and Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi at the unveiling.

The development will cover nearly 10ha, focused between Barrack and William streets.

“The development is designed for pedestrians and cyclists – not cars,” said Mr Barnett:.

“It will be an attractive destination for families, young people, city workers, national and international tourists and seniors to gather and enjoy.

“The State Government will take the lead on this development, along with Perth City Council, and we will be looking – indeed asking – the private sector to join with us.  I am also confident the Federal Government will be supportive.”

Mr Barnett said there was significant work to be done on road realignment, drainage and dredging but preliminary works would begin as soon as possible, with major construction starting in 2012.

The plans signal a new era of city building, as a logical and seamless extension of the city.  Together with The Link, major works to the Cultural Precinct and other CBD projects, the city’s axis will be redefined through the strengthening of the Barrack and William streets links.

In addition, Howard Street and Sherwood Court will provide direct links between St George’s Terrace and the waterfront, enhancing the capacity for these laneways to become vibrant places with shops, cafes and small bars.

The inlet, designed to reflect the historical characteristics of Perth Port, will have room for public boat mooring facilities.

At the heart of the new inlet will be an island, a landscaped parkland offering a unique experience for visitors. This family-focused destination will provide opportunities for relaxation in sheltered open spaces with 360 degree views of the surrounding city.  It may also include a safe, child-friendly beach and swimming areas.

Land at the foot of William Street has been preserved for a significant public building.  The Government’s preference is that this building be a national centre for indigenous art and culture, providing a major focus for the project.

Event spaces will be dotted throughout the waterfront, including a public square next to the Esplanade train station, the promenade, the island and a new road which can be closed to accommodate events.  Larger events will be held at the Supreme Court Gardens, which will be improved under the plan.

 There is also the potential to include a swimming pool, which could be an attractive recreational asset for city workers.

Full details of the Perth Waterfront concept plan can be found on the PlanningWA website at http://www.planning.wa.gov.au/waterfront 

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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Industry leaders in Australia are urging the Australian federal government to overhaul its skilled immigration program to address a looming shortage of workers.

Recent changes by DIAC to the skilled migration visa processing times have meant that many hundreds of applicants for visas have been told that they may have to wait up to 3 years and this is slated to impact on several massive projects announced for Western Australia, including the Gorgon gas development, expansion of the Pluto LNG plant and the development of the Mid-West iron ore region including the massive Gindalbie iron ore mine which will need upwards of 1500 workers during the construction stage.

 The recent Australian Financial Review (afr.com.au) has stated that skills shortages are set to intensify in coming years.

The article calls for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to urgently look at reviewing Australian visa policies to ensure that these shortages can be filled. More immigrants will be needed to work in Australia in industries such as energy, mining  and IT which, according to the review, face a major skills shortage unless something drastic is done to alleviate it.

Major Australian firms such as infrastructure giant United Group have also released warnings to the government that they will be facing skills shortages within 12 to 18 months.

The firm’s CEO Richard Leupen declared that the shortage has been brought about as a result of the tightening of the business visa rules. He says this has coincided with the company’s reduction in training programmes for staff in response to the recession.

In the IT industry, the need is even more acute. A study, commissioned by Microsoft Australia, has found the IT industry will generate $21 billion for GDP by the end of 2013 but any potential growth could be stifled by the shortage of skilled labour.

Bruce Mills, chief executive of IT consultancy firm 3W, says as more IT work becomes available, such as the National Broadband Network, companies will struggle to grow and obtain new projects if the number of skilled workers remains flat.

“What has occurred is that everything that was done to avoid the global financial crisis has sort of spilled over, and so by the time any of the results were felt any issue that caused the crisis is over, and that is what has happened with the tightening of 457 visas.”

Source  :  www.australiamagazine.co.uk

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The Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett has officially launched a $100 million research centre in Perth, which has been set up to help Australia win a massive radio astronomy project.

Western Australia and South Africa are the front runners to secure the $2.5 billion Square Kilometre Array project, with the decision expected in 2012.

To strengthen WA’s bid, Curtin University and the University of Western Australia have set up the International Centre for Astronomy Research with extra funding from the State Government.

The International Director for the S.K.A project Richard Schilizzi says the centre will enhance Australia’s chances.

“It shows that the infrastructure for radio astronomy in Australia is very strong and that means that the ability to exploit the telescope role will be ensured,” he said.

Source  :  www.abc.net.au

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PREMIER Colin Barnett may ask the Federal Government to relax foreign worker allowances to prevent labour shortages at major WA projects.

WA faces severe shortages of skilled workers in 2011, when there is expected to be peak activity in WA’s resources sector, Mr Barnett told a media conference in Perth yesterday.

The premier’s comments come as a large Chinese steel maker, Ansteel, contemplates the viability of developing WA’s first steel mill.

Other massive projects planned for the state include Woodside Petroleum Ltd’s Pluto Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project, Chevron’s Gorgon LNG project, a new deep water port at Oakajee and CITIC Pacific’s Sino Iron project.

“I expect we will face serious skills shortages if these projects go together at the same time,” Mr Barnett said.

“Hopefully,  we can build these projects with Australian labour but I expect there will be skill shortages, in particular trades areas.

“We need to be prepared to bring in some of their (Chinese) workers.”

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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pet airwaysPEOPLE love their pets, sometimes more than they love other people.

So it is not a surprise that a start-up company, Pet Airways, has had a massive response since offering to transport dogs and cats in a much more caring way.

Precious pets won’t be left to fend for themselves in cages in a freezing cargo hold – an experience that so scared a Jack Russell terrier owned by husband-and-wife team Alysa Binder and Dan Wiesel that they decided to launch Pet Airways.

All of the passengers using the new airline’s cargo plane get to travel in the front of the plane in special carriers installed instead of seats.

They are escorted to the plane by pet-loving attendants who check on their precious cargo every 15 minutes.

The pets are given pre-boarding walks and bathroom breaks and also have access to a “Pet Lounge” where future fliers can wait and sniff the furniture before flights.

The demand for the service has been staggering, with flights rapidly booked out for the first two months.

Operating between regional airports in New York, Washington, Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles, Pet Airways charges about $315 per trip, which is comparable with charges on less pet-friendly airlines.

The company is already looking to add more flights and cities soon, and hopes to fly to 25 destinations within three years.

Betsy Saul, co-founder of Petfinder.com which ranks the pet-friendliness of various airlines, said she was excited about the expected impact Pet Airways would have on pet travel across major airlines.

”The entire industry will stretch because of Pet Airways,” Betsy told the Associated Press.

Source : www.news.com.au

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EXCLUSIVE: SUPER 7s Oz Lotto has jackpotted to a staggering $90 million next week.

The new, all-time record lottery draw will take place next Tuesday after there were no first division winners in last night’s $50 million draw.

A rush for tickets for last night’s game saw the division one prize pool boosted to a massive $59 million.

Tattersall’s Lotteries PR manager Karen Anning said next week’s Super 7s Oz Lotto
draw will shatter all existing records for lotto games in Australia.

“We were expecting the game to jackpot to $60 million next week if there were no first division winners but, due to the unprecedented level of interest in last nights draw, the decision has been made to offer a minimum guaranteed jackpot level of $90 million, Ms Anning said.

“The lotto frenzy we have already experienced over the past week is expected reach epic proportions in the lead up to next Tuesday nights draw.”

source  :  www.news.com.au

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