Significant changes to Australia’s migration system, announced today by the Federal Government, will deliver better long-term outcomes by better targeting key skill shortages, lifting productivity and strengthening the economy, according to the Business Council.
BCA Chief Executive Bran Black said the Migration Strategy included many important changes called for by the BCA, including better long-term permanent migration planning that would enable better linkages with housing and infrastructure planning.
“Australia’s prosperity, our jobs, our living standards and the strength of our economy are all directly linked to a successful, efficient and well targeted migration program and these changes get the balance right,” Mr Black said.
“We need nurses for health and aged care, specialist engineers to support our energy transition, and experts for cyber security, and by filling these roles we are supporting Australian businesses and at the same time improving the lives of Australians.”
Mr Black said the Strategy largely aligns with the changes called for by the BCA by removing the complexity of the current system, focusing on skills that will benefit other Australian workers and makes Australia competitive as a destination to attract key talent from around the world.
“Migration is not a substitute for investment in Australian jobs and skills but it is a key tool to fill skills shortages, bring in the best global talent, and address the nation’s demographic challenges.
“The simple fact is Australia is not producing certain skill-sets at home in the quantities needed, and that means we need to attract people with those skill-sets from overseas.
“The Government should be congratulated for genuinely engaging with industry on this policy and making changes which will strengthen our country by getting the balance right.
“The BCA will always back good policy changes which lift productivity, similarly we will continue to call out bad policy, including the Government’s workplace relations changes.”
Mr Black said the Strategy was about getting the migration system itself right.
We strongly endorse the commitment to move to long-term planning of the permanent migration intake and linking that with the states and territories and their housing and infrastructure planning.
“We also back the work by governments to address housing pressures with measures to provide more homes where they are most needed.
“The new tiered approach to temporary skilled migration is another key change, removing the out-of-date and inflexible occupation lists and replacing it with a new specialist skills pathway at a threshold of $135,000.
“This change will make it easier for employers to bring in the highly-skilled talent needed to help develop local industry, and train and upskill Australian staff.”
A new four-year visa is also strongly welcomed by the Business Council, as is the faster and more efficient processing commitments, and the streamlining of labour market testing.
“These reforms also provide appropriate additional protections for sponsored migrant workers, with a reasonable opportunity to move employers where necessary, whilst also acknowledging the significant investment employers make to sponsor workers. We look forward to the continued design work on this part of the strategy.”
Mr Black said there was still more work for the Government to do in relation to regional migration, and in developing the pathway for temporary workers in roles facing significant labour shortages below $70,000.
“We look forward to working with the Government on these issues to swiftly address our concerns, while consultation continues, so the full benefit of the migration reforms can be realised.”