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Australia needs Chefs

STOP whingeing, Poms. As the British economy falters, Australia is launching its most aggressive campaign yet to attract a new generation of immigrants from Britain.

A recruitment drive by the state government of South Australia starts tomorrow with newspaper advertisements attacking life in Britain, with slogans such as "Sod London house prices" and "Screw working in Staines, hello Adelaide".

Fifty years after 1m Britons were lured down under with the £10 assisted-passage scheme, skilled tradespeople and professionals are once again being targeted. This time there will be no cheap flights or tickets for ocean liners but the promise that young people can buy a four-bedroom detached house on the beach with space for a swimming pool and "barbie" for as little as 200,000. In 2006 more than 200,000 Britons left the country to live abroad, and South Australia wants to snap up another 5,000 a year. Professionals in demand include chefs, butchers, physiotherapists, dentists and dermatologists. There is no upper age limit, but a points system based on job and parental status will in effect bar anyone over 45.

The slogans are the work of Bill Muirhead, a founder partner in the M & C Saatchi advertising firm, who has been appointed agent-general of South Australia. Muirhead, who was born in Adelaide, said: "It might appear we are being rude but a lot of things in Britain aren't good. You don't want to go to hospital in case you die of illness. It's fertile ground. We went for Staines because it sounds nasty too. I don't suppose the mayor of Staines is going to be too happy but it could easily have been Slough or Croydon."

South Australia is four times the size of Britain but has an ageing population of just 1.5m. David Travers, the state's migration expert at Australia House in London, said: "It's not like the old 10-a-pom days but we are very hungry for people as a resource. Australian states don't just compete against each other at cricket. We fight to get skills."

Chris Finch, a landscape gardener from Bracknell, Berkshire, who plans to emigrate to Adelaide with his wife Teenachk in June, said: "We think we can provide our future children with a better life."

Mike Rann, South Australia's premier, who was born in Sidcup, southeast London, and is the architect of the migration scheme,said: "If someone has a vision for what they want to do, it's much easier to do it here than in Britain. I'm the grandson of a dustman."

But Andrew Hirst, mayor of Spelthorne, the Surrey borough that includes Staines, said: "It's a great shame the Australians have to pick on Staines. It's an attractive riverside town with a lot more going for it than their weak beer. We have full employment and are close to both London and Windsor."


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