New research from Monash University’s Centre for Population and Urban Research shows that the current state of Australia demands an immigration program that addresses the issues of sustainability, particularly in big cities. The study finds that the Labor Government’s current immigration target of net 180,000 per year means that Australia’s population will grow from around 22 million to 36 million or more by 2050, which is not compatible with resolving sustainability problems.
The report, entitled Immigration and the Resources Boom Mark 2, by Bob Birrell, Ernest Healy, Katharine Betts and Fred T. Smith finds that the industry is claiming that, unless net overseas migration is kept at 180,000 or higher, there will not be enough skilled workers to meet employer requirements and to sustain aggregate economic growth.
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“Australia needs a lower, but better-targeted immigration program. The bulk of current migration has little to do with providing scarce skills to the resource industries. Rather, it is delivering two major streams,” the report finds.
One is a predominantly professional flow to the big cities where the immigrants are being employed in people-servicing industries such as health and welfare. The demand for these services is, in turn, partly driven by migration-fuelled population growth. The other stream is a mass of people on temporary visas such as students and working holiday makers. Again, they go to the major cities, and work on a casual basis, reflecting their visa status.
The report disagrees with the government’s policy relating to the length of stay of temporary workers on 457 visas when it comes to the resource industry. The government encourages them to seek permanent residence visas. About half of those issued with 457 visas in recent years have obtained permanent residence visas after a few years of temporary residence.