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