Australia gets selective on who may immigrate

Australia is making some radical changes in its immigration policies. The changes will: * Increase the number of skilled workers Australia accepts from other countries.

* Allow potential immigrants to join family members in Australia only if their Australian relatives agree to support them financially.

* Narrow the scope of refugees who are allowed in on the basis of political persecution in their countries of origin.

* Crack down on illegal migration.

The changes, which will take effect in April, are expected to raise the current 111,000-a-year level of immigration by 10,000 in each of the next four years.

Australian officials already have begun to recruit skilled workers from the United States. In Los Angeles, they say, they have received thousands of inquiries from US professional, semiprofessional, and technical workers.

Although Australia needs skilled workers, it does not need ''mass migration, '' says Immigration Minister Ian MacPhee. Therefore Australia will no longer assist migrants to travel here. He emphasizes that Australia needs to be selective, but not discriminatory.

''The migrant Australia needs today must demonstrate a capacity to reach self-reliance as soon as possible after arrival,'' says Mr. MacPhee.

''In revising the migrant selection system to meet present requirements of the immigration program the government has taken self-reliance to be the key to settlement success.''

Just before the Australian government announced its new policy, the government for the first time refused to accept the credentials of ''boat people'' from Vietnam, who sailed into Darwin harbor, in the north of Australia.

The government investigated the boat and the people on it, and decided that all 146 people aboard should be deported. Investigations showed that the ''boat people'' were taking part in an illegal migration racket, based in Taiwan, and most of the alleged refugees were ethnic Chinese from Taiwan and Hong Kong. At least six of the refugees will be tried for immigration offenses.

Shortly after this incident, the government refused to approve an application for political asylum by a Romanian soccer player, who was competing in the youth world soccer cup here. After going into hiding, 19-year-old Gheorge Viscreanu applied directly to Mr. MacPhee to remain in Australia, but was eventually persuaded to return to his homeland.

The tougher line on Viscreanu resulted from bipartisan criticism of the government's decision a year earlier to give permission to Lillian Gasinskaya, a Russian, to stay in Australia. Recently doubts were raised as to whether she was a true refugee when it was revealed she wished to return to the USSR.

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