Post-pandemic, Australia should aim for a reset on migration that not only attracts migrants back to our shores and tackles workforce shortages, but also helps set the country up as a high-productivity, high-skill, and high-wage frontier economy. We need to plan for migration in a way that is supported by the community, is backed by infrastructure and makes a positive contribution to the nation. To this end, the Business Council of Australia welcomes the Government’s review of the migration system. The system as it stands is highly complex and has become increasingly unattractive for skilled migrants and their employers.
Australia’s migration program should be geared toward supporting the nation’s prosperity and national interest. We face global competition for skills and talent. The system must be reformed so Australia remains an attractive destination for the best and brightest globally.
Skilled migration is a complement (not a substitute) for training and hiring Australians. Governments and industry must of course prioritise opportunities for Australians and ensure that population growth is planned for and managed well. Migration is needed to bring in international expertise if we are to drive new industries and new capabilities. Strong, skills-focused migration helps Australia remain prosperous and resilient, and ensures we have the skilled workforce needed to deliver high quality essential services and drive Australia’s future industries. The demand for, and benefits from, skilled migrant labour will outlast the current more acute shortages. In particular, in areas where we don’t have the knowledge base in the country, we will always need to attract it from overseas. This is critical not just to participate directly in business investments and delivery of work needed now, but also to educate, train, supervise, and upskill local workers, passing on their knowledge.
This submission calls for a range of reforms of the migration program, to meet this aspiration going forward.