Migration must be central to Australia's post-COVID-19 economic recovery: CEDA

The Federal Government should promote migration as a key plank of the post-COVID-19 economic recovery, according to a new paper on employment in CEDA’s Council on Economic Policy (CCEP) Economic Recovery series.

The labour market after COVID-19 brings together expert views on the critical issues shaping the jobs market, including for women, the long-term unemployed and young people, and the role of wage subsidies, immigration, training and industrial relations.

The paper calls on the Federal Government to extend the JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments to temporary migrants such as students and those on skilled work visas, as other countries have done with their own pandemic payments.

The report finds Australia can benefit from expected tighter restrictions on migration in other countries, by encouraging migration by highly skilled workers. 

“This crisis will have long-lasting impacts on migration policy across the world and in Australia,” CEDA Chief Economist, Jarrod Ball said.

“While many countries will try to impose permanent migration restrictions in the wake of COVID-19, Australia should resist such policies and promote migration as part of the national economic recovery.

“Migration has been a key driver of Australia’s economic development and will continue to be so in the decades ahead.”

The paper also urges the Federal Government to introduce an intra-company transfer visa to help multinational businesses looking to invest and expand their operations in Australia.

“Australia has been relatively successful in controlling the spread of the virus; this sets us up to be an attractive destination for the world’s best and brightest,” Mr Ball said.

“We should use this period to improve on our skilled migration system to ensure that when the borders open up again, Australia is the destination of choice for the best and brightest.”

The paper also urges state governments to do more to help international students, particularly in Victoria.

“As soon as it is safe to do so, Australia should restart the flow of international students into the country in carefully controlled circumstances,” Mr Ball said.

The paper also warns the Federal Government of the risks threatening Australia’s economic growth and prosperity if it pursues a “gender blind” approach to the COVID-19 economic recovery.

“As Associate Professor Elizabeth Hill from the University of Sydney notes, a gender-blind approach to the COVID recovery will compromise the efficiency of our labour markets, constrain productivity and limit wellbeing, while increasing economic insecurity and reducing labour force participation for women,” Mr Ball said.

In her paper on fiscal policy and gender, Associate Professor Hill notes that the government will have many opportunities to adopt gender-responsive measures in the care sectors. This could be through an overhaul of public funding for childcare and more investment in social infrastructure such as education, health and care services, rather than the current focus on large infrastructure projects that disproportionately employ men.  

The paper includes chapters on:
CEDA Chief Economist Jarrod Ball and Senior Economist Gabriela D’Souza will be appearing before the Senate Select Committee on Temporary Migration on Thursday 17 September to present CEDA’s recent research on temporary migration.

CEDA Chief Economist Jarrod Ball is available for further comment and interviews.
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Justine Parker, Media Manager and Content Specialist
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Roxanne Punton, Director, Communications                               
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CEDA – the Committee for Economic Development of Australia – is an independent, membership-based think tank.   

CEDA’s purpose is to identify policy issues that matter for Australia’s future and pursue solutions that deliver better economic and social outcomes for the greater good.
CEDA has almost 700 members including leading Australian businesses, community organisations, government departments and academic institutions. Our cross-sector membership spans every state and territory. 

CEDA was founded in 1960 by leading economist Sir Douglas Copland. His legacy of applying economic analysis to practical problems to aid the development of Australia

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.;