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Wednesday, August 17, 2011
THE number of Irish people aged between 18 and 30 granted working holiday visas to Australia has surged by almost 50% since last year.
A total of 21,753 Irish nationals were granted the temporary visa in the period up to June 30 this year, according to Australia’s Department of Immigration.
The figure represents a jump from 14,833 for the previous year for those heading for working holidays down under.
The programme allows young people to work for up to six months with one Australian employer, with Irish backpackers now established as one of the most mature markets for tourism operators.
The Backpackers’ Association (BOA) of New South Wales said many of the new arrivals from Ireland are landing well-paid jobs on farms, where they are in huge demand.
Spokesman Daniel Lucas said: "The Irish are a smart market. They have been coming to Australia for a long time and when they come here, they manage to plug themselves into the jobs network really quickly.
"We put a lot of Irish guys onto jobs out in farms.
"Many of these guys have got rural backgrounds, so they can get jobs driving tractors for $30 (€21.80) an hour, working six days a week and 14 hours a day. So they make an absolute fortune when they come over here."
Meanwhile, migrants can look forward to lining their pockets even more from next year, due to new taxation relief measures introduced as part of the Australian government’s carbon tax initiatives.
From July 1 next year the tax-free threshold will be lifted from $6,000 to $18,200.
It means backpackers who earn anything under and up to the latter figure will pay no tax at all. In 2015, the threshold will be lifted again, to $19,400.
Other figures show that Ireland was the tenth biggest source of skilled migrants to Australia in 2010-2011, with 2,934 visas granted to Irish citizens.
China is the largest source of migrants, with a total of 29,547 places or 17.5% of the total migration programme for the same period.
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