Australia should have kept its annual permanent immigration target at 190,000, the Infrastructure Summit of the Australian Financial Review has been told. In March 2019, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison cut the Australia immigration target to 160,000 per year, in order to appease the Australian voters worried about job security and congestion in cities.
But Australia is facing a potential “labour-supply crunch” as two million Baby Boomers are retiring from the workforce, the Financial Review report quoted Peter McDonald, professor of Demography at the University of Melbourne, as saying. According to the professor, the retiring workforce is not going to be replaced at the young end, because the young end is not growing. “The young end is flat and even falling because people are staying in education longer. So migration is really the only solution to that … it probably would have been better to stick at 190,000,” he said.
The professor further observed that the reduction in Australia immigration target had not made any difference in the congestion faced by Sydney and Melbourne. Many of the Baby Boom generation who will be retiring soon, are in lower-skilled jobs. If these jobs are not filled by migrants, Australia will also face a shortage of lower-skilled workers.
Australia has fixed the permanent migration at 160,000 for the next four years. With an aim to steer migrants away from highly populated cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, the government was also introducing new skilled-worker visas. These visas, covering 23,000 entrants, require the candidates to have three years of residence in the regions as a precondition for securing permanent residency.
The 160,000 cap includes 110,000 skilled workers and 47,000 family immigrants. Currently 101,419 applications are pending in the skilled worker category and another 194,908 in the family migration category, including 80,539 partners applying for residency. Many of these candidates are already in Australia on bridging visas.
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