Australia’s visa system will adapt to attract skilled immigrants
Structural changes to the visa system in Australia are on the horizon with the Government aiming to have well-targeted skilled migration policy that expands opportunities, improves living standards and increases productivity.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton believes that there is rising support for high skilled migration in the country and its system should be an example to the rest of the world that voters will accept immigrants if they believe the system is being run fairly.
He indicated that immigration is a major issue, not just in Australia, but also the UK and the United States and said in a speech in London that research shows that taking control of Australia’s borders has been a popular move.
He told the audience at the offices of think tank the Policy Exchange in London that anti-migration sentiment has had a significant impact on the last three Australian elections, the Brexit referendum in the UK and the election of President Donald Trump in the US last year.
He said it also has had an impact on the rise of anti-migration parties in Europe including in last week’s German election and he believes that a key driver is ‘the very high level of irregular migration across the world today’.
He spoke about how support for migration actually remains relatively strong in Australia and indeed has strengthened over recent years and pointed out that a survey last year by the Australian Scanlon Foundation showed broad support for migration of 59% and even higher for skilled and family reunion migration.
‘I think there are three basic explanations for Australia’s situation. The first is that migration is intrinsic to our national identity as much as it is to our economic fortune and is widely seen as such,’ said Dutton.
‘Secondly, that public support cannot be taken for granted. Secure borders are fundamental to a well-managed and truly compassionate migration programme that is capable of securing public backing.
‘And thirdly, migration policy cannot be set and forget, it must be constantly adjusted. Australian Governments, if not, of course, all Governments, have a duty to ensure that migration works first and foremost for its citizens, not just the migrants themselves,’ he added.
He told the audience that around two-thirds of Australia’s annual planning ceiling of 190,000 permanent places are filled by skilled migrants. ‘Properly managed and well-targeted skilled migration expands opportunities, improves living standards, increases productivity and helps our country to reduce the budget deficit, Dutton said.
He pointed out that skilled migration makes Australia more internationally competitive and has helped achieve more than 20 years of uninterrupted economic growth. The Migration Council of Australia estimates migration will add $1.6 trillion to Australia’s GDP and 16% of workforce participation by 2050.
Dutton also pointed out that temporary migration is also increasingly important and Australia’s Productivity Commission expects migration to add another 13 million people to the population by 2060.
‘The Commission advises the gains will depend on having a system that attracts younger migrants who are more skilled. And it advises that we need to get our social, economic, environmental, and I would argue at the top of that list, security policy settings right,’ Dutton said.
‘This is why the Australian Government is adjusting its migration and border policies to counter threats to Australia’s security to meet the reasonable expectation of Australians that migrants share and uphold our values and laws and ensuring skilled migration serves our national interest.
Foreign workers, including from the United Kingdom, are of course still welcome and able to be employed in Australia where there is a genuine need for their skills. Indeed Australia remains committed to a migration programme that is biased towards skilled migration that meets the needs of Australia and its people,’ he added.