The Australian Computer Society last week called for an overhaul of ICT migration policies but knowingly chose to keep mum on crucial details, ZDNet Australia  has learnt.

On Friday, ACS president Edward Mandla announced the society’s long-awaited policy on migration programs, highlighting key recommendations to ensure a vibrant market for Australian ICT workers.

ACS’s stance is based on a report it commissioned to labour market specialist Bob Kinnaird entitled Labour Market Impacts of ICT Immigration Policies, January 2005. It hopes to present its policy to the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs by the second week of May.

Mandla called for a “substantial” reduction in the number of ICT graduates applying for permanent residency through the General Skilled Migration Program. However, when asked to provide an approximation for the decrease, Mandla said, “I don’t know …. We really don’t know …. We haven’t
got that data.”

“I don’t have a figure,” Mandla repeated, adding that it was neither up to him nor the ACS to provide such statistics.

But Kinnaird tells a different story. “There is a recommended figure in my report,” he told ZDNet Australia. Unfortunately, it can’t be disclosed since Kinnaird is involved in a legal tangle with the ACS.

An eight-page chapter on conclusions and recommendations were omitted from the original report so Kinnaird has since moved to stop the distribution of an amended version of his findings.

“They [ACS] sent me the report minus the chapter and said this is the report we’ll be publishing. I previously advised that that’s not consistent with our contract because the contract states only minor changes are allowed.

“I maintained that removing a chapter is far beyond the minor change [that we agreed],” Kinnaird said.

“I was left with no choice but to get legal advice and to get my lawyers to write to the ACS to say that I was not prepared to allow an abridged version of the report. I’ve never been given any reason as to why the ACS wanted that chapter removed,” he added.

The organisation adopted about 95 percent of his suggestions, Kinnaird said.

In his report, he urged the ACS to raise its professional accreditation standards for migration assessment and to set a minimum English language bar when assessing applicants. However, these points were excluded from the ACS’s policy paper.

“It’s a pity that the questions of ICT immigration policy and what changes are needed have been overshadowed by this unnecessary squabble over the report. I can’t really see why the ACS just can’t release the report [with the chapter],” Kinnaird said.