Proposed new reforms to Australia’s migration system

As reported by our Corporate Partner LexisNexis

In her address to the National Press Club on 27 April 2023, the Federal Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil highlighted several shortcomings of Australia’s migration system and proposed several new areas of reform. The address comes after the release of a 195-page review of the migration system released on 26 April 2023.

This review outlines five objectives which will enure that “the migration system will operate in Australia’s national interest”, including:

  • •building Australia’s prosperity by lifting productivity, meeting labour supply needs and by supporting exports;
  • •enabling a fair labour market, including by complementing the jobs, wages and conditions of domestic workers;
  • •building a communtiy of Australians;
  • •protecting Australia’s interests in the world; and
  • •providing a fast, efficient and fair system.

Many of the flaws highlighted by the Address related to the temporary skilled migration program. The Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) was noted to have been frozen at $53,900, which is below the earnings of 90% of Australia’s full time workers. In addition, a growing share of migrants entering on temporary skilled visas were entering low-wage jobs. There was also found to be a lack of temporary migrant workers going on to receive permanent skilled visas. Many of those who went on to receive such visas entered Australia on a student visa. The migration system as a whole was also noted to be a “bureaucratic nightmare” and “so complicated that if I drew you a digram it would look like a tangled bowl of spaghetti”.

Several reforms were proposed to address the above flaws, including:

  • •creating three new pathways for skilled migrants to enter Australia based on the skills possessed by migrants;
  • •ensuring that the international student visa system cannot be exploited, making workers more vulnerable;
  • •reforming the manner in which temporary migrants are determined as eligible to become permanent residents;
  • •establising a Jobs and Skills Australia body to examine alongside businesses and unions where shortages exist within Australia’s jobs market;
  • •increasing the TSMIT to $70,000; and
  • •ensuring that a conversation is started within the federal government to plan for housing, services and infrastructure to be equipped for the above reforms.

The reforms were posed as addressing the “decade of genuinely breathtaking neglect” faced by Australia’s migration system.

The government will shortly release a draft outline of its new migration strategy the full details of the strategy to be released later in 2023.

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