Higher wages for temporary migrants to new visa streams: Australia to overhaul migration system

Wages for temporary migrants will be raised by about $16,000 from 1 July, and thousands will become eligible for permanent residency.

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The Australian government has announced significant policy reforms to overhaul the country’s migration system. Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said the changes were needed because the existing system was “not fit for purpose” and failed to attract the most skilled people while creating an “emerging permanently temporary underclass”.

Wages for temporary skilled migrants will be raised by about  $16,000 from 1 July, and thousands will become eligible for permanent residency by the end of the year.

The reforms also include a three-tiered skilled migration system, with a highly skilled stream with fast turnaround times, a middle stream linked to Jobs and Skills Australia, and a final pathway addressing chronic shortages in the lower-paid care sector.

The points test will also be reformed to actively recruit highly skilled migrants, while hundreds of visa categories and sub-categories will be simplified. Migration agents duping international students will also be scrutinised.

Following a migration review conducted by the Albanese government, changes have been announced as the review found that Australia’s migration system is “broken” in significant areas, failing to support both migrants and businesses adequately.

The review, titled “A Migration System for Australia’s Future,” was conducted by former head of the prime minister’s department, Martin Parkinson; associate professor in law at the University of Adelaide, Joanna Howe; and former senior partner at Deloitte, John Azarias.

According to the review, there is a risk of Australia becoming a nation of “permanently temporary” residents due to excessive dependence on temporary migrants. The study concludes that the migration system could be more efficient, faster, and frequently seen as unfair. Users, potential migrants, and businesses all find the system overly complicated and challenging to navigate at every level.

In the review, the skilled migration system is heavily criticised for being inadequately tailored to meet present or future needs. The inquiry further points out that the occupation lists used to support the system do not account for expected or existing labour requirements. Additionally, the points test employed to select skilled migrants without job offers is criticised. The review warns that Australia may lag in attracting highly skilled migrants without introducing more innovative and appealing visa programs and service delivery, given the international competition for these individuals. The inquiry also highlights that Australia’s care sector is currently facing a worker shortage, yet the country lacks a specific migration policy for lower-paid care workers.

According to the review, Australia is not adequately targeting the most talented and capable international students. Additionally, the report highlights that many former students are becoming “permanently temporary” due to the failure to identify those with the highest potential for permanent residency at an earlier stage.

The review also identifies flaws in the annual migration planning process, noting that it lacks a long-term outlook. This undermines the ability to plan for essential services such as housing, schools, hospitals, and the provision of goods and services.

Read more: Record number of student visas in Australia, lead to fears of a crash


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