Migration strategy sets strong vision, more to be done on essential-skills visa

The Albanese Government’s migration strategy sets a clear direction for Australia’s migration system, says Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) Chief Executive Melinda Cilento.

The Albanese Government’s migration strategy sets a clear direction for Australia’s migration system, says Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) Chief Executive Melinda Cilento. 

“For too long, our migration system has lacked a cohesive and long-term strategic direction,” Ms Cilento said.

“Instead, we’ve had a revolving door of changes that caused uncertainty, unpredictability and confusion for anyone using or relying on the system – migrants, employers and the broader community alike.

“We absolutely need to get the right skills in the right places, and the focus on this, as well as simplifying the system and more transparency, is the right way to go. 

“The strategy comes at an important time, given the intense focus on the size and benefits of Australia’s migration program after an unexpected surge in migrant arrivals, reflecting the end of COVID-19 pandemic-era visa restrictions.”   

Temporary migration

The new four-year Skills in Demand visa is a key element of the new strategy.

CEDA has consistently backed creating a three-tiered approach to temporary migration – a pathway each for high, medium and low-skilled migrants – to ensure the system meets Australia’s genuine and emerging skills needs. 

“The Specialist Skills pathway with a wage threshold of $135,000 is a crucial element of this and something we have long been calling for,” Ms Cilento said.

The creation of the Specialist Skills pathway, coupled with the commitments for processing times and improved skills accreditation will go a long way in assisting business to attract the skills and experience they need to support investment and growth. 

“CEDA has advocated strongly for the creation of the third pathway of this new visa – an essential skills visa.

“We continue to believe the Government should work towards creating an essential skills visa pathway focused on workers in the care sector.

“We look forward to working with the Government on this tier of the temporary program recognising the importance of getting the framework and regulations right, as migration will need to play a role in addressing long-term skills shortages in care sectors  and particularly in aged care. 

“Right now, it’s clear the Government’s aged-care labour agreements aren’t working. They are costly, onerous and proving hard to implement.

“Aged-care worker shortages are growing. We’ve recently found that aged-care beds are sitting empty – with some homes now operating at just 50 per cent capacity and others closing down altogether – because homes can’t get enough workers.

“Despite our ageing population, right now there are very few new aged-care homes in the pipeline to be built due to the workforce and financial challenges facing the sector.”

Permanent migration

Improving the points system for permanent migration should help to ensure those best placed to make a contribution to Australia are prioritised.  

Plans to consider a new talent and innovation visa are sensible but we need to learn the lessons of the failed Business Investment and Innovation Visa, which hasn’t worked as planned.

Finally, the commitment to long-term migration planning with states and territories provides a welcome and critical missing ingredient, Ms Cilento said.

“This will enable better long-term planning and investment in housing and infrastructure and should send clear signals about the scale and composition of our migration program,” she said.

“As current debates show, this is crucial to maintaining community confidence in and support of our migration system.”

About CEDA

CEDA – the Committee for Economic Development of Australia – is an independent, not-for-profit membership organisation.

We identify policy issues that matter for Australia’s future. We work to drive policies that deliver better economic, social and environmental outcomes for Australia. We deliver on our purpose by: Leveraging insights from our members to identify and understand the most important issues Australia faces. Facilitating collaboration and idea sharing to invoke imaginative, innovative and progressive policy solutions. Providing a platform to stimulate thinking, raise new ideas and debate critical and challenging issues. Influencing decision makers in government, business and the community by delivering objective information and expert analysis and advocating in support of our positions. CEDA's membership spans every state and territory and includes Australia's leading businesses, community organisations, government departments and academic institutions. The organisation was founded in 1960 by leading economist Sir Douglas Copland, and his legacy of applying economic analysis to practical problems to aid the development of Australia continues as we celebrate 60 years of influence, reform and impact across the nation.;