The Multicultural Council of Tasmania has welcomed the Liberals’ plan to increase the number of international skilled migrants settling in Tasmania. The Council said that Tasmania was well behind Australian trends for cultural diversity – with just 12% of our residents born overseas, compared to the national average of over 24%.
The Council said that migrants bring diversity, skills and fresh perspectives to Tasmania. Migrants also bring money and connections as well as demand for local services and products. The Australian states with growing numbers of international migrants also have growing domestic economies that are creating jobs, not losing jobs.
Immigration Department figures show that Tasmania could do much more to attract skilled migrants – just 308 skilled migrants came to Tasmania in 2012 – 2013 out of a total of 58,000 that came to Australia.
Tasmania has low numbers of skilled migrants compared to most other states – in the last year 39% of Tasmania’s new arrivals were skilled migrants, while in South Australia 60% of their new arrivals were skilled migrants.
The Council said that effective multicultural policy has a big impact on the
numbers that are attracted to settle in a state. The Liberals plan to encourage mentoring, increase state sponsorship and recognise international qualifications are important and welcome initiatives.
“It’s not only about creating jobs – being open to the world and branding ourselves as a welcoming and thriving place is also an important part of the policy picture. Many jobs in the services sector are created simply from more people moving to the state” said the Council’s CEO, Anna Reynolds.
“We welcome the Liberals recognition that more can be done to encourage international students to settle in Tasmania after their studies. Tasmania can learn from states such as South Australia which is running campaigns to retain the international students that study there to also settle there.”
“They are encouraging the students to apply for state nomination, and currently South Australia nominates three times the number of skilled migrants than the Tasmanian government does.” said Ms Reynolds.
The Council said that family reunion immigration options remain an important part of the picture, because many migrants will not stay longer term if they are permanently separated from close family. While this is a federal government decision, the state government can be effective advocates for this.
The Multicultural Council of Tasmania is made up of more than 30 organisations and turns 35 this year. It is the Tasmanian voice for cultural diversity and community harmony. The Council is hosting a State Election Forum on Multicultural Policy next Wednesday 19 February at 5.30 at the Moonah Arts Centre.