Call for Labor to explain plan for temporary migration

“I’m not someone who advocates for a big Australia in this conversation,” Ms O’Neil told the National Press Club on Thursday.

Mr Rizvi said the government should commit to publishing a clear set of data indicators of the health of the visa system, potentially overseen by an independent commissioner or the reformed ministerial advisory council that Parkinson suggests.

Grattan Institute economic policy program director Brendan Coates said it was impossible to run an uncapped temporary program alongside a capped permanent program, while offering all temporary migrants a path to permanent residence, as Labor is promising.

“Either the permanent intake needs to rise substantially, or the temporary intake – encompassing students, temporary sponsored workers and working holidaymakers – must be reduced,” Mr Coates said.

Andrew Hanson, NSW managing director of recruitment firm Robert Walters, expressed relief that the unrealised potential of immigration was being discussed.

“The panel has heeded warnings that existing visa pathways are overly complex and inhibitive, and acknowledged that the employment of rigid preferred occupation lists has stifled the flexibility essential in the identification and attraction of the most sought-after skilled individuals.

“A process of streamlining in these areas will supercharge the ability of Australian employers to fill the gaps in their workforce and unlock productivity.”

He said changes to the points test for skilled worker visas must help lift barriers to entry, rather than simply impose new ones.

“From direct experience, the news that will prove most attractive to talented individuals weighing up a move to our shores will be an improved pathway to permanency, alongside an enhanced visibility in how likely this is to be achieved.

“We need to be focusing our efforts on those who will have the biggest – and most long-lasting – impact on Australia’s future. When competing with other global business hubs, there needs to be a clear signal that we are willing to invest in those individuals with key skills who choose to move here.”

Australian Institute of Administrative Law national president Perry Wood said the shake-up would reduce reliance on the courts, cutting efforts by some visa applicants to “buy time” through lengthy appeals.

“From an administrative law point of view, these reforms have the potential to reduce the reliance on the court system, through judicial review, as a way of ‘buying time’ which currently perpetuates ongoing temporariness whilst also clogging up the justice system,” Mr Wood said.

He welcomed efforts to make the system more dynamic and data-driven and said the culture of the migration system should shift “to one that is taking a more humane approach and ending permanent temporariness, and at the same time ensuring Australia’s competitiveness in the international arena”.

The Settlement Council of Australia, which represents service providers supporting new migrants and refugees, welcomed Ms O’Neil’s decision to offer all skilled temporary migrants in Australia a pathway to permanent residency.

“A sense of permanency is important for social cohesion,” chief executive Sandra Elhelw Wright said. “It means people can invest in their future, and truly build a home in Australia.

“In order to better attract and retain migrants to our shores, Australia has to be seen as a destination where new arrivals will be supported early on in their settlement journey.”

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