6 May 2014
Chief Minister Adam Giles says he is in talks with Prime Minister Tony Abbott and federal Minister for Immigration Scott Morrison about putting in place a regional migration agreement, but admits it hasn’t been easy.
“There are challenges in perceptions around the country about increasing migration to the Territory,” he told reporters in Darwin on Tuesday.
He said the unemployment rate in the greater Darwin area was 1.3 per cent, posing problems for employers seeking labour, and plans haven’t always come to fruition to bring up workers from Sydney and Melbourne, which have higher levels of unemployment.
“We are having a strategic advancement towards Asia; we believe that’s the most positive move for the NT as a government and for northern Australia both on investment but also population and trade routes,” Mr Giles said.
He said he is working on a trilateral agreement between the NT, East Timor and Indonesia, and still determining what a 2500 growth in migrant workers would mean for the workforce, housing and essential services.
The government is still negotiating the time frame over which the workers would migrate to the NT, which has a long history of welcoming migrant workers, particularly from Asia, and Mr Giles said he hoped that would continue.
“It’s important we focus on migration from the northern neighbours when we can’t fill those gaps from southern Australia,” he said, but stressed the need to ensure the plan had the support from the wider Australian community.
The biggest challenge for workers migrating to Australia from the neighbouring region would be mastering English, said Pak Ade, Indonesia’s consul to the NT.
“In Java they are more proficient in English but if you’re looking in the eastern part (of the country) you need to encourage them to further their English proficiency,” he said.
Courtesy of The Australian