26/04/2005 - 22:00

A little understanding needed on visas

26/04/2005 - 22:00


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I noted a recent Federal Government initiative to allow backpackers an additional year on their working holiday visas – something that I believe is long overdue and still probably doesn’t go far enough.

I noted a recent Federal Government initiative to allow backpackers an additional year on their working holiday visas – something that I believe is long overdue and still probably doesn’t go far enough.

Until the recent announcement, backpackers could only get a 12-month working holiday visa, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for travellers to both work and have a holiday.

New Zealand changed earlier than we did, possibly forcing the change in this country, but young people from Australia have been eligible for two-year working holiday visas for the UK for decades.

Increasing the time limit is welcomed, though the visas remain restrictive in that the holder may only work for the same employer for three months.

I assume these rules were put in place to protect local labour, yet you have to wonder why we need to be so restrictive when we invite this class of holiday-maker into the country, particularly during times like these when there is a shortage of all sorts of skills.

Backpackers – the main users of working holiday visas – are typically well-educated, independent people who usually have plenty of money to spend.

Previously I have stated that these are exactly the type of people we want to attract to this country – not just for one holiday but regularly, if not permanently.

On top of their backgrounds, they are generally people who understand the value of getting out and seeing the world, a spirit that is very Australian, I believe.

We should be doing everything we can to make sure they like the place and want to come back, either for future holidays, business purposes or to migrate.

If they don’t want to come again, or stay, we should be making sure that they have enjoyed their time here and had long enough to get to know us.

It is these people who will go back home and, ultimately, become their nations’ decision makers. We would like them to understand us and welcome Australians.

Birney needs to use his power wisely

IT took Geoff Gallop’s second win for the break up of Western Power to occur.

It is ironic that Dr Gallop’s Government has been considered slow off the mark and incapable of getting things done, when it was the Liberal-led Opposition that largely tied down parliament over the matter.

By the time Western Power is broken up it will probably have been a four-year battle, which is ridiculous.

Notably, the current Opposition leader voted with the Government on this issue. It was a matter of principle rather than party politics.

Matt Birney, who has recently sold his main business interests in Kalgoorlie to, it is assumed, concentrate on the Liberal leadership, ought to remember that decision.

In politics, it is easy to be principled when it suits your argument, especially from the Opposition benches when the amount of talk far outweighs the action that can be taken.

Mr Birney’s pre-leadership stance was more than talk.

But now he is the leader and, while he may agree with the break-up of Western Power, there will be many decisions that will come along to test his adherence to the principles he believes in.

Last week, in his first major public appearance as leader of the WA Liberals, Mr Birney suggested he would be standing for the core values of his party – the principles, if you like.

These days, many people think the political parties are so similar it might be worth spelling out those principles for all of us.

But the hardest thing for Mr Birney will be to know when to let the Government govern and when it is time to be a strong opposition.

Sometimes those principles will get in the way of a good opportunity to wreak some havoc for the government of the day.

However, it is not all about points scoring, it is about benefiting the state for everyone.


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