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May 3, 2006 00:28 - New minimum salaries for temporary overseas skilled workers

Amanda Vanstone, Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, announced on Monday May 1st an increase in the minimum wage for temporary skilled workers as a measure to ensure foreign skilled workers are paid salaries reflecting their skills. . Effective from 3 May 2006 most professions will be looking at an increase of more than 7 per cent as the minimum wage is increased to $41,850. The minimum salary requirements do not override requirements that workers are paid in accordance with Australian standards and conditions of employment (including awards, workplace agreements, superannuation and taxation.) If awards or workplace agreements demand a higher salary, then that higher salary must be paid or the employer risks losing the right to sponsor overseas temporary workers. In fact the Minister believes that a majority of employers paid well above the minimum salary, with the average salary of business long stay visa holders - commonly referred to as 457 visas - being $65,000 The trades and professions seeing the increased salaries are the result of a genuine skill shortage n Australia. Overseas workers are being sought to fill these gaps. To deter employers from recruiting unskilled and low-paid overseas workers to the detriment of Australian workers minimum salary levels have been reviewed annually by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs and the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations since being introduced in 2001 The IT sector sees an increase of 12.9 per cent taking the minimum salary for workers up to $57,300. This level was agreed following consultation with the ICT industry. Increases in the minimum salary for the highly skilled senior manager positions applying for permanent migration, which does not require an assessment will be $165,000 a year. There will also be changes to regional concessions allowed under the 457 visa scheme, to take effect on July 1 2006. These will include setting an absolute limit for salaries in regional areas of at least 90 per cent of the standard minimum level. This will ensure salary levels approved by regional certifying bodies are at least the minimum acceptable in the Australian context for a skilled worker. In addition to the requirement to still meet English proficiency requirements for licensing by the relevant Australian licensing authorities. 'Further improvements regarding language will ensure temporary skilled workers under 457 visas have at least functional levels of English. Employers will need to attest either that their employees have sufficient command of English or that they have put in place arrangements to provide English language training for both the employees and their families. This will help to protect both foreign and Australian workers, particularly in situations where a lack of English language skills can be an occupational health and safety risk,' the Minister said. My Department will consult with Industry on the detailed implementation of these changes which will add further strength to a visa regime that is delivering the skilled workers that Australia needs to keep growing. 'The Government is committed to working with employers and unions to ensure that any allegations of exploitation of workers are fully investigated and action taken if there is any evidence that workers are not receiving their correct entitlements.' source

May 4, 2006 00:25 - Increase in Spouse Visas Issued

Yep it's true IMMIGRATION Minister Amanda Vanstone has increased the number of spouse visas with an extra 3000 partner visas being provided this financial year. This will take the total intake to 36,300, while a further 1000 would be added to that in 2006-07. The increased in the demand for spouse visas has been driven by two main factors
  1. the increasing global mobility of young Australians; and

  2. the larger sponsorship base created by the increased skilled migration intake.
She has also put a halt on further increases in the number of skilled migration intake for the 2006-07 financial year. Despite concerns about a nationwide skills shortage skilled migration will stay at the current level of 97,500 it is the first time in at least a decade that there will have been no change to Australia's skilled migration program, . The Minister is reluctant to repeat the increase in skilled migration numbers of 20,000 in the financial year 2005-06. It will be the end of the next financial year before the impact of the additional intake of skilled migrants would be known and until then a jump in skilled migrant visas is not on the cards despite lobbying by business Amanda Vanstone said "I understand that business wants to open the gates but we have responded to their call for the financial year we're now in and it would be unwise to have another big jump straight away. "That doesn't rule out having a look towards the end of the next financial year to see if our assessment is correct." 02 May 2006 The Australian

May 8, 2006 22:51 - Worldwide Expos to recruit more people with Skills to fill jobs in Australia

Looking to make a move to Australia? Do you have a skill on the shortage and a good level of the english language? Following the succesful expos held in Brisbane, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Chennai, Melbourne and Perth during 2005 further expos are scheduled for 2006. Locations include Asia, the Americas, UK, Dubai, and Australia Starting tomorrow 'The Australia Needs Skills' expos start in Asia during May. So if your living in Aisa pop along to see the Australian employers looking to meet people with the skills and experience needed to fill job vacancies. The expos will provide you with information about visas and employment in Australia. 2006 ASIA THE AUSTRALIA NEEDS SKILLS EXPO SCHEULE
  • Shanghai - 9 May & 10 May

  • Hong Kong - 13 May & 14 May

  • Manila - 17 May &18 May

2006 AMERICAS THE AUSTRALIA NEEDS SKILLS EXPO SCHEULE

  • USA, Detroit - 26 August & 27 August

  • USA, Houston - 29 August & 30 August August

  • Brazil, Sao Paulo - 2 September & 3 September

  • Peru, Lima - 6 September & 7 September

DUBAI/UNITED KINGDOM THE AUSTRALIA NEEDS SKILLS EXPO SCHEULE

  • Dubai late September

  • Dublin late September

  • Manchester early October

  • London early October

AUSTRALIA THE AUSTRALIA NEEDS SKILLS EXPO SCHEULE

  • Adelaide - 26 May & 27 May

  • Melbourne - 1 September & 2 September

  • Perth - 11 November

Like to find out more? Then visit the Expo for Skilled Workers in the DIMIA website

source

May 10, 2006 20:26 - So has todays budget left us better off??

Yesterdays budget saw the introduction of radical changes to the taxation on Australian Supernanuation, changes in the tax brackets and more....

  • Super Contributions to be fully tax-deductible for the self employed
  • work until the age of 60 and get to accumulate super benefits tax free. You will also get to leave your money in super past the age of 65 and draw it down at will when they please like a bank account. The idea is to encourage those planning to retire at 55 to stay in the workforce a little longer.
  • From July 1, 2007, Reasonable Benefit Limits (RBLs) on super benefit will be abolished so you can accumulate as much as you like. Employees will be limited to a flat $50,000 yearly super contribution limit (including employer 9 per cent contributions and any salary sacrifice)
  • FAMILY Tax Benefits will rise by up to $9.62 per child per week for families earning between $37,500 and $65,000.
  • Large Family Suppliment is to be extended to cover families with three children (was four children) which will give them an addiitonal $4.70 per week

Revised tax brackets will be:-

Tax Rates From July 2006
Taxable Income Tax Rate Income in this Tax
$0-$6,000 0% $0
$6,001-$25,000 15% TBA
$25,001-$75,000 30% TBA
$75,001-$150,000 40% TBA
$150,001+ 45% TBA

source

May 14, 2006 23:33 - Humpback Whale set free

Last Thursday saw the successful rescue of a humpback whale who had got caught up in craypot lines. The whale is now happily swimming towards the warm waters of Western Australia's northern coast .

The rescue success was thanks to a commercial fisherman spotting the whale in distress Wednesday afternoon and waiting for CALM to arrive to free the whale.

The fisherman spotted the whale out to sea some 18 nautical miles off the Bunbury coast. An annual ritual sees the whales leaving their feeding ground in the Antarctic waters heading north up the coast of WA to where they'll calve in the warmer climes.

It was important for CALM to plan the rescue and not just jump into the first available boat. Successful rescues need good, accurate information to be provided. This was provided by the fisherman who was there on the spot, and allowed CALM to plan first and put in place support and a formal control structure.

You see such a rescue is extremely dangerous, says Doug Coughran a Senior Wildlife Marine Officer with CALM, he added that a man in New Zealand had lost his life trying to free a whale. You're not in a Disney movie where the animal knows you're trying to help. "They call them gentle giants: they're giants but they're not gentle and therefore are extremely dangerous."

Volunteers from Bunbury Sea Search and Rescue, the Bunbury Surf Life Saving Club and the Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre were involved in the rescue.

Doug stated that the animal would have died if it had not been freed. As it was, it swam away with a few bruises, abrasions and a bit of bark missing. "He'll recover," says Doug, "He's at his peak." the humpback had just left the kitchen of the Antarctic, his body condition is very good. The outcome might have been different if the whale had been travelling south after months of fasting.

It's nice to be able to come together with a lot of support from the community, says Doug. "It was very much a team effort - a team focus - and at the end of the day, we all came home."

source

May 21, 2006 19:51 - Perth Housing Market Still Going Strong

Perth's median house price has grown by 5.1 per cent since December 05. This brings the Perth median house price up to $353,000, a $17,000 increase since December.

In the year to March the Perth per cent increase was almost 24 per cent, while in regional WA it was higher at 26.4 per cent.

Mr Rob Druitt, REIWA Vice President said "Demand is still outstripping supply and the number of days between homes being listed and sold has plummeted to just 18, down from 48 days 12 months ago.

The median price for homes throughout WA now stands at $340,000.

Median rents have also grown in the metropolitan area increasing by 4.5 per cent in the quarter to $230 per week.

Land sales has seen the strongest area for growth with residential land values increasing by 32 per cent.

The market price pressure has generated a continued interest in units and apartments, a lower priced alternative. Median price for a unit is now $275,000, a 22.2 per cent increase over the year.

Mr Druitt said that despite the rising prices and low stock availability the WA market was still robust and the month of January broke the record for new building approvals. "This illustrates that the property market is not just confined to established homes, and the pressure is on the housing sector to release more land and create more stock".

"The recent increase in official rates of 0.25 per cent might be a good thing for the first home buyers in particular; and those trying to enter a tight market with very low stock."

"The modest rate rise may have the effect of causing some investors to withdraw from the market, freeing up more stock for first home buyers, who have struggled to compete with them,"Mr Druitt said

reiwa.com Home Buyer - 19 May 2006 source

May 21, 2006 20:29 - Snow Dome Planned for Perth

If dreams turn into reality then the brain child of businessmen Nick Foster and Steve Pretzel could be operating by 2009.

The $45 million West Coast Snow Dome is planned to include a beginners snow play area and a 400m slope with intermediate and expert zones. Facilities for free style skiers would also be available.

Funding would mainly come from the private sector with some government funding and small-scale individual investments being a possibiity.

The snow dome would not just be for ski enthusiasts. "Many West Australians lead an active life-style and there are natural crosovers to tap into other sports and recreational activities such as cycling, surfing, skateboarding, in-line skating and mountaineering". Mr Foster said

Areas under consideration for the snow dome location include Midland, Armadale, Kwinana, Rockingham and Joondalup.

"Bringing a major capital-intensive project to fruition in a state relatively small in population is never an easy task' . He was under no illusion about the magnitude of the project.

Feasibility study for a snow dome last year had been positive and further studies would now be carried out. The pair believe that Perth's distance from traditional snowfields and its climate make it an ideal location.

Mr Foster said, "Our research indicates there are more than 50,000 snow-sport enthusiasts living in Perth."

"These people regularly travel across the country or across the world to particiate in the sport they love and would surely welcome the opportunity to have a world class indoor facility in the Perth metropolitan area. "Can you imagine how refreshing the ice cold snow park would be on a baking hot Perth summer's day?"

Nick Taylor - Sunday Times, SUnday 21 May 2006. source

May 21, 2006 21:06 - Keystart home loans in decline

The State Government cut its allocation for Keystart home loans by $115 million in last week's State Budget

But Housing Minister Michelle Roberts says the cut shows applications are falling and it did not indicate falling support for the concept.

Keystart loans are low deposit home loans for people struggling to get commercial bank loans.

For this financial year, the Government allocated about $780 million to the fund, which charges normal variable rates, but next financial year it expects to lend $665 million. "There are vastly less applications for Keystart loans than there used to be and there are also a whole lot of mortgage discharges,"she told Parliament.

But opposition leader Paul Omodei said the Government was cutting the scheme when low income earners where finding it increasingly difficult to buy a home.

WA Council of Social Services executive director Lisa Baker said the Government assured her the scheme could be expanded if applications outstripped funds but the decline indicated the scheme could be marketed better.

Robert Taylor - Sunday Times - SUnday 21st May 2006. source

May 21, 2006 21:21 - Next Stage Land Release in Success in July Expects a Huge Response

Stage 10a of the Magnolia Gardens precinct with just 12 home sites available is expected to sell out quickly. If you miss out then you will have to wait until a further 150 lots are released in the two final stages later this year.

During the current boom having more buyers than blocks at Thomsons Lake has become the norm, said David Gibbons, Land Sales and Marketing Manager.

"With our most recent release, we sold about 50 home sites at Magnolia Gardens in just six hours - and we could probably have sold the lot over again, to people on our database."

"That sort of response may be a general reflection of the supply-and-demand situation in the metropolitan area just now but a high level of demand has been the case for a long time at Thomsons Lake."

Richard Noble & Company launched the estate in early 1993, when prices for lots started at just $42,000. More than 2020 lots have been sold since then and the most recent sales averaged $190,000. Prices for 10a, yet to be released are expected to exceed that amount.

Mr Gibbon said land at Thomsons Lake still represented excellent value, particularly with its proximity to the CBD and a full range of services and facilities was taken into account.

'When people see what an attractive community has been created at Thomsons Lake, they realise it is a very good place to live," he said. "Success has primary schools, high schools, the Gateway shopping centre and now a train station at Cockburn Central.

"The estate is only 20 minutes from the CBD, and the recent completion of Roe Highway makes access to other areas significantly more convienient too. The railway will make a big positive impact when it is created around Cockburn Central."

Stage 10a home sites will range from 371sqm to 669sqm and will face public open space - either a bush park with vegitation and paths or a passive recreation area with play equipment, seats and mature trees.

Mr Gibson said it was worthwhile for potential buyers to put their name on the database before the next land release.

Details of stage 10a and future land releases at Magnolia Gardens are available from selling agent Gina Monaham, +61 08 9214 777 or +61 (0)407 945 834.

Maureen Eppen - Sunday Times - 21st may 2006.

source

May 28, 2006 23:29 - If you want a property near water in Perth then you can look at parting with $1 million just for the block.

Gone are the says when a $1 million house in Perth is anything special. Once you could buy a mansion in a prize Perth location. You have no such look today if your buying in a riverside suburb you can expect to get a fibro shack or an old brick cottage.

The property boom has seen luxury homes selling with price tags over $5 million. last week saw the a property in Claremont sell for $15 million. In fact the boom has launched many river and beachside suburbs such as Bicton, Scarborough, Rossmoyne and the inland suburbs Southern River, Mt Lawley and Beaconsfield into $3 million territory.

In Perth there arenow 134 suburbs with houses selling for the $1 million price tag, while sales of $2 million occured in 42 suburbs, 18 suburbs with sales of over $3 million and 7 suburbs clearing sales of over $5 million.

MILLION-DOLLAR-SUBURBS
Sales over $5m
Suburb Highest Sale Price
Claremont
$8,850,000
Bedfordale
$8,200,000
Dalkeith
$7,000,000
Applecross
$6,800,000
Mosman Park
$5,350,000
Bicton
$5,100,000
source reiwa (year to March 2006)
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