Only much lower migration will improve migration outcomes: SPA
The Migration System Review will not fix the problems of migrant worker exploitation, visa wait times nor skills shortages, says Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).
The review report, led by former Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson, does not explicitly discuss the scale of the migration program. But scale is the most important factor affecting outcomes, according to SPA national president Jenny Goldie.
“Oddly enough, not only does Parkinson’s report fail to discuss the scale of the migration program, but it fails to pinpoint who is the real boss of Australian immigration policy,” says Ms Goldie. “It is Treasury, not Home Affairs. For many years now, their Budgets have set extremely large and self-serving net-migration targets, walled off not just from voter opinion, but also from climate and environmental costs.
“How does Parkinson deal with this? He simply ignores it. Instead, with no apparent trace of irony, he recommends more skilled migrants, to help us get to ‘net zero’ emissions.
“By Treasury decree, Australia has been running the developed world’s largest immigration program, in ratio to our population, for well over a decade. The October Budget set a misleading target of 235,000 net migration for 2022-23, but the actual result will be closer to 400,000.
“We’ve little to show for it, but for a housing crisis, wages going backwards, strained infrastructure, lots of migrant exploitation scams, and even more claims of skills shortages,” says Ms Goldie.
The review says skilled migration has been an important driver of Australia’s economic growth.
“Yet a bigger economy is no benefit if it means less per person,” says Ms Goldie. “On a per capita GDP basis, Australia has performed worse than many European countries with near stable populations, or even against Japan’s falling population. On a productivity basis, as the report concedes, our last decade has been dismal.
“Australia’s extremely high rates of immigration are dominated by overseas students or family dependents, and not by ‘skilled workers’ as such.
“We are flooding the job market with workers who don’t fit the skilled vacancies. Whether they have qualifications or not, most end up doing lower-skilled jobs. For chronic worker exploitation and wage theft, you could scarcely design a better system.
“Genuine sustainability should be at the forefront of the priorities for Australia’s migration system,” said Ms. Goldie. “The 2021 State of the Environment Report showed Australia’s environment is worsening on every front, and population growth is a major driver.”