27 Oct 2008

Migrant numbers may be cut - Australia

2:53 pm on 27 October 2008

Australia may cut the number of people it allows into the country if the global financial crisis raises unemployment levels.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans said a decision on reducing numbers would be taken after mid-year financial data is published next month.

Around 190,300 immigrants are forecast to arrive in Australia in 2008/09.

Mr Evans said the current migrant programme, which is aimed at skilled workers, was designed when Australia was forecasting good economic growth and a skills shortage.

If these parameters were changing, he told Nine Network television the government "can turn the taps off" if needed.

Mr Evans said that any decision on cutting migrant flows was complex, considering their contribution to the country's economy.

Australia is currently witnessing an increase in the number of migrants coming from Britain and New Zealand.