In an effort to repair Australia’s “broken” immigration system, the Albanese government says it will cut migration intake in half within two years. The Government intends to reduce yearly intake to 250,000 – around pre-pandemic levels – by June 2025.
The new strategy will also tighten visa requirements for international students and low-skilled workers. In Australia, migration has reached record highs, putting additional strain on housing and infrastructure.
However, skilled professionals continue to be in short supply, and the government is struggling to attract them.
Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said the previous government left the migration system “in tatters” as she unveiled a new 10-year immigration policy at a media briefing on Monday.
A evaluation earlier this year concluded that the system was “badly broken” – overly complex, slow, and inefficient – and in need of “major reform.”
In the year to June 2023, a record 510,000 individuals arrived in Australia, but the minister stated her government will “bring numbers back under control” and lower the annual migration intake by roughly 50%.
Among the new restrictions are stricter minimum English-language requirements for international students, as well as increased scrutiny of individuals applying for a second visa, who must demonstrate that further study would benefit their academic or professional goals. According to official data, there are approximately 650,000 foreign students in Australia, with many of them on their second visa.
The visa procedures for migrants with “specialist” or “essential” talents, such as highly trained computer professionals or care workers, have also been altered to boost their chances of permanent residency.
Ms O’Neil believes the new policies will attract more of the workers Australia requires while also lowering the danger of exploitation for individuals who live, work, and study in the nation.
According to the opposition’s migration spokesman, Dan Tehan, the government was too sluggish to alter migration regulations aimed to boost Australia’s recovery from the pandemic.
“The horse has bolted when it comes to migration and the government not only cannot catch it but cannot find it,” he told reporters over the weekend.
Since its victory last year, the Labor government’s popularity has dropped, and in recent weeks, it has come under pressure from some quarters to temporarily curtail migration in order to assist alleviate Australia’s housing problem.
Others, such as the Business Council of Australia, have claimed that migrants are being exploited as a scapegoat for a lack of affordable housing investment and decades of poor housing policy.