Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, 29 November 2023. EPA-EFE/LUKAS COCH AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND


Left-wing Australian Government moves to fix ‘broken’ migration system


Australia’s Labour Government said its current migration system is “broken” and it wants to cut its migrant intake “in half” over the next two years.

Canberra is hoping that by tightening visa requirements for international students and low-skilled workers, it could significantly reduce migration to the country.

Australia intends to reduce the yearly intake of migrants to 250,000 by June 2025. That number is similar to that before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Its net overseas migration – the net gain or loss of population through immigration to Australia and emigration from there –  is expected to have hit a record 500,000 in the year to September.

Over the weekend of December 9-10, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese stated that Australia’s migration levels must be reduced to a “sustainable level,” adding that “the system is broken”.

“People are coming here, enrolling in courses that don’t really add substantially to either their skills base or to the national interest here,” Albanese said.

The Liberal opposition said the high numbers were a predictable result of “an arrogant” Government.

Canberra had pushed for more migration to expand the workforce after the pandemic while at the same time a high number of foreign students also arrived in the country.

Despite the Australian migration model often being lauded as a blueprint by many in Europe, arrival figures have reached record levels, putting additional strain on housing and infrastructure.

Skilled professionals, meanwhile, continue to be in short supply and difficult to attract.

“We’ve worked around the clock to strike the best balance in Australia’s migration system,” home affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said on December 11.

“The Government’s targeted reforms are already putting downward pressure on net overseas migration and will further contribute to this expected decline.”

Australia will not limit the number of foreign students but will make higher demands on who will be eligible to come. New criteria are to be introduced, such as tougher English test score requirements. It will also eliminate options that allow students to extend their stays in Australia.

A new specialist visa for highly talented workers will be established, with processing time reduced to one week. That is designed to assist businesses in recruiting more skilled migrants in the face of severe competition from other developed nations.

The Cabinet has already approved the new migration policy, which follows months of engagement with the higher education sector, business groups and other stakeholders.

The minimum salary requirement to secure the necessary visa of $70,000 per year (around 42,000 euros), known as the temporary skilled migration income level, will now be increased annually.

The Government said the visa would be reformed so that successful applicants match “core” talents that are actually needed in Australia.