Over the last seventy years, immigration has added seven million people to Australia’s population and will, if current policy settings continue, add a further thirteen million by 2060. The current focus of the migration program on skilled migration, while maintaining opportunities for family and humanitarian immigration, is perceived to have served Australia well.
However, key policies in the migration program, when added to the rise of extremist politicians in Australia and globally, have the potential to undermine its community acceptance with respect to the economic benefits for the nation. In particular, an overreliance on poorly regulated market driven components of the program and the very substantial pools of relatively unregulated temporary migrants create opportunities for exploitation and have significant consequences for incumbent workers.
CEDA believes that Australia’s migration program has played an important role in the nation’s economic success. The almost unprecedented twenty-five years of economic expansion was facilitated by a responsive migration program that was able to access skills and labour needed to handle the largest terms of trade boom in a century. It also connects Australian businesses with global talent and new trade opportunities.
This policy perspective examines what changes in public policy with respect to the migration program are necessary to sustain its contribution to Australia’s economic development and social cohesion and to maintain community support.