MG Rover workers facing an uncertain future in Birmingham are clamouring for the chance to start a new life in Australia.

Immigration bosses usually receive five or six visa applications a day from people in the West Midlands looking to emigrate to sunnier climes.

But since news broke that the Australian Government are facing a shortage of skilled automotive workers, the Australian Visa Bureau has been swamped with calls from Longbridge workers.

Within 24 hours, the organisation received just under 100 inquiries via their website - and they expect many more. Oonagh Baerveldt, the bureau's spokeswoman, said: "We've seen a major increase, we've had 18 times as many inquiries about Australia from the Midlands area than we would normally receive.

"For those workers facing redundancy in the wake of the MG Rover crisis, this is an easy sell. Australia offers a great quality of life - good weather and good value on the part of the Aussie dollar.

"If skilled MG Rover workers feel they are not in a position to retrain, they can apply to immigrate to Australia with the skills and experience they already have."

Colin Faulkner, an automotive designer based at Longbridge, is just one of many MG Rover employees to apply for a five-year visa. The 37-year-old, who lives in Solihull and has worked for MG Rover since 1985, said redundancy could be a blessing rather than a curse.

"Everybody's applying for jobs in Britain so more people will be going for fewer vacancies, so going abroad is probably a better bet," he said.

Any skilled individual who works in any of the jobs on the Australian Government's Migration Occupations in Demand (MODL) list, will be given priority processing by immigration chiefs.

The website is australia/assessment/skilled