On 21 February 2023, the Minister for Home Affairs (Hon Clare O’Neil) gave a speech at the Australian Financial Review Workforce Summit (see here).
In this speech, the Minister talked about the ways in which Australia’s migration system is broken and what practically needs to be done to fix it.
What were identified as issued?
The Minister highlighted three main reasons why Australia’s migration system is broken:
- The system is too reliant on temporary visas, with issues including:
- insecurity for migrants and making it difficult for them to establish a life in Australia;
- many requiring employer sponsorship/engagement (leading to exploitation);
- an inability to determine whether the temporary visa holders are meaningfully contributing to skill shortages (or other economic needs);
- The visa system is too complex, bureaucratic and outdated. With issues such as:
- long wait times, backlogs, and delays;
- outdated occupation lists to determine workforce needs;
- labour market testing that has become a “box ticking” exercise;
- recognition of skills/qualifications in other countries being problematic;
- points system which fails to appropriate judge economic output;
- The inability to capitalise on international students who have studied in Australia – with them often either working lower-skilled roles than qualified for, or needing to leave Australia.
How would these be rectified?
To address these issues, the Minister outlined several policy recommendations, including:
- Redesigning the migration system to identify why it exists, and developing a more flexible migration system that can respond to changing economic and social needs.
- Streamlining the visa system to reduce complexity and wait times (particularly for low-risk, large businesses – including intra-company transfers – and highly skilled migrants), including the administration of the system;
- Rebalancing the temporary and permanent programs;
- Improving the speed/ease with which migrants’ existing skills are recognised and providing support to secondary applicants and others in the labour market.
It was indicated that the overhaul of this program would take significant time to deliver, and such changes would not be ready for the May 2023 budget.
Overall, the Minister’s speech highlighted the need for significant reform of Australia’s migration system to ensure that it is fair and compassionate, while meeting the needs of both migrants and the Australian economy.
Hannan Tew Lawyers have been strong advocates for immigration reform and agree with the highlighted issues and proposed fixes. We’ve penned thought pieces on certain visa programs, been interviewed by media on these thoughts, provided submissions on behalf of companies to government agencies, and are part of the Law Institute of Victoria’s Migration Law Committee to provide further advocacy and legislative/policy reform in this space.
Please feel free to contact us by email at [email protected] or phone +61 3 9016 0484 if you would like assistance.