Annual permanent migration to Australia could be doubled over the next 40 years and deliver significant per capita economic benefit, according to a new report
However, the report, carried out by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (Ceda), also found that this could only occur if there is greater focus on the impact of migration on services and infrastructure in the country’s major cities. It also calls for a tightening of permanent skilled migration tests and 457 visas. Releasing CEDA’s report Migration: the economic debate, CEDA Chief Executive, Professor Stephen Martin said that ensuring continued success with a skills-focused migration programme requires getting the right mix of migration and also looking at where migrants settle.
“Migration has been a significant driver for our economy, particularly under the skills based approach that has been in place for some time,” he said. “Australia’s migration programme is considered world leading, and the contribution to Australia’s economic sustainability genuine but that’s not to say Australia’s migration programme is problem free.”
Professor Martin continued: “A focus on skilled migration has served Australia well and that is why we need to make sure that if we are bringing in skilled labour it is to meet genuine skills shortages, which is why we are recommending a more robust evidence based model be put in place for the 457 visa occupation shortages list.
“The CEDA report also recommends shifting to a universal-points test for permanent skilled migrants and tightening entry requirements relating to age, skills and English-language proficiency.
“Alongside getting the right skill mix, we also need to ensure that settlement is occurring in the right places and with consideration for the service and infrastructure needs of a larger population.”
Professor Martin said improvements also need to be made to the working holiday visa programme, with the report recommending a cap, and a new guest worker program for specific industries struggling to attract low-skilled workers.
He said that to achieve the right policy settings, changes should be viewed against three key aims: – Ensure previous strong community support for migration is re-established; – That there is fair treatment for both temporary and permanent migrants; and – That the country continues to reap the economic benefits from the skills that a balanced migration program brings.
“While migration shouldn’t be relied on as the only driver of economic growth in Australia, if the policy settings are right it can deliver significant economic and social benefits for both existing and new residents,” he said.
The report also recommends:
– Increasing penalties for exploiting migrant workers; – Incorporating the economic and social consequences of migration in future intergenerational reports; and – Improving settlement services and support, access to English language programs and recognition of foreign qualifications.
Article published 4th November 2016