Visa Crunch

Grattan Institute: Coalition should focus on younger, higher-skilled migrants who would benefit Australia in the long run

When Australian borders reopen to migrants from across the world, there will be a chance to alter the demographics of those who are admitted to work and reside permanently in the country.

According to a Grattan Institute paper calling for a comprehensive rethink of immigration policy, Australia is not attracting appropriate migrants i.e. those who pay economic rewards. It claims that visa holders via the government’s Business Investment and Innovation program provide fewer advantages to Australia than skilled migrants recruited through other streams because they are relatively older and speak limited English while earning lower wages.

The institution suggested that this government’s program should be scrapped since “few investors are financing initiatives which would otherwise not happen, or giving entrepreneurial skills that would benefit the Australian community.”

The latest research comes at a time when labor concerns are becoming more of a political vendetta. MPs in the ruling government are becoming increasingly concerned that companies may be unable to recruit enough workers to help local firms recover from the economic shock due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Last week, at the Coalition’s regular party room meeting, such concerns were raised.

The annual permanent migrant intake is now set at 160,000 visas, a drop from 190,000 only a few years ago. However, a separate humanitarian scheme allows the Commonwealth to give an additional 13,750 permanent visas.

Russell Broadbent, a senior Liberal moderate, also made a speech in the federal house of parliament last week to argue that those in Australia on bridging visas should be allowed to work since companies were eager to stage due to the international border shutdown.

The Grattan report offers many recommendations, including a plea to cease using occupation lists to target permanent skilled worker visas towards transitory skills shortages and instead make employer-sponsored visas open to employees in all occupations who earn at least $80,000 annually.

According to the analysis, shifting the migration mix might result in an additional $9 billion in personal income tax revenue over the duration of every year’s permanent migrant intake.

It claims that eliminating the Business Investment and Innovation Program would result in a $3.7 billion increase in the lifetime fiscal dividend from each year’s migrant cohort.

Brendan Coates, economic policy program director at Grattan believes that “one positive from the COVID outbreak is the unique chance for Australia to reset and strengthen the skilled migrant intake.”

The pandemic, according to most experts, is an opportunity to retrain our future workers at a time when Australia is recognized as a desirable location to work and live.

In a recent poll of economic migrants, Australia stood third in 2020. This is likely due to Australia’s effectiveness in controlling COVID in comparison to other competing nations for skilled migrants, like the US, Germany, Canada and, the UK to name a few.

Ravi Patel

Ravi Patel

To say it in the most sardonic way possible, I am least skilled as an engineer and instill a myopic view of all the experiences I have anticipated so far. However, I stir the pot, colors from which come surging forth as I choose to describe myself as an artist. Here's hoping to diversify my awareness from that cleft beyond writing.

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