Change migration system to stop rorting: new submission
Reforms to stop rorting of Australia’s migration system are urgently needed, according to a new submission to a government review.
Caps on the proportion of overseas students in all university courses, increased minimum wage thresholds for temporary skilled migrants, measures to stop rorting of skill migration visas, and tightening of family reunion criteria are among the recommendations made by Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).
The group also calls for a lower annual migrant intake (net overseas migration or NOM) of no more than 60,000, so that Australia’s population can stabilise at an ecologically sustainable level below 30 million people.
The submission says that high levels of immigration have solved none of the problems it was intended to fix, while exacerbating all of the issues of most concern to Australians, from job insecurity and falling real wages to housing unaffordability, inadequate infrastructure, environmental degradation and greenhouse gas emissions.
The submission is to the federal government’s review, A Migration System for Australia’s Future, announced by the Minister for Home Affairs, Clare O’Neil, at the Jobs and Skills Summit in September.
SPA national president, Ms Jenny Goldie, says returning to a NOM of 235,000 annually, as currently proposed by the government, would simply deliver windfall gains to property developers, large employers, universities and migration agents, at the expense of ordinary Australians and our environment.
“High immigration leads to rapid population growth,” says Ms Goldie. “Yet the costs of population growth far outweigh the benefits.
“In particular, concerns about demographic ageing causing worker shortages have proven unfounded. The fiscal costs associated with population ageing are more than off-set by lower infrastructure costs in a stable population.”
“Excessive overseas student numbers are weakening our higher education system and placing extra costs on Australian taxpayers.”
SPA has made a number of recommendations in its submission that include:
- A sustainable scale of migration, based on a vision for an ecologically sustainable population and economy, must be the bedrock criterion
- A NOM of no more than 60,000 a year should include a generous allowance for humanitarian refugees
- All skilled migrants should be employer-sponsored and initially temporary. Permanent skill visas should only be offered to those who have demonstrated a period of appropriately skilled employment
- To ensure that the jobs migrants fill are actually skilled and needed, the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) should be at least 10% greater than the median full-time wage, that is, the TSMIT should be set at around $90,000 a year, not the current $53,900.
- Caps should be placed on the proportion of international students enrolled in any course, perhaps no more than 25% except in courses specifically intended to prepare foreign students for further study.
- The family reunion system should be tightened to reduce its widespread abuse as a method for commercial chain migration. Only those who have gained Australian citizenship should be entitled to sponsor a newly-married spouse. At least five years on a permanent residence visa should be required before qualifying for citizenship.
The submission in full may be read here