The Albanese Government has launched its new Migration Strategy, which aims to ensure Australia has the skills its needs for the future, with the strategy welcomed as a “positive step forward” by key hospitality associations.
Dr Martin Parkinson led the once-in-generation review of Australia’s migration system, with the findings of the comprehensive review published today, with five key objectives:
- Raising living standards by boosting productivity, meeting skills shortages and supporting exports
- Ensuring a fair go in the workplace by complementing the jobs, wages and conditions of domestic workers and preventing migrant worker exploitation
- Building stronger communities by better planning for sustainable migration, and giving migrants the opportunity to invest in their lives in Australia through permanent residence and citizenship
- Strengthening international relationships by building stronger economic and social connections with our regional neighbours and international partners
- Making the system work by being fast, efficient and fair for migrants and employers.
In announcing the strategy, Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil said: “Our Migration Strategy is a bold plan to get migration working again for all Australians.
“The strategy helps us get the skills we need – in healthcare, for our net zero transition and in our digital economy.
“We are acting to design out migrant worker exploitation from the system so we can protect wages and conditions for migrants and locals alike.”
Minister for Skills & Training Brendan O’Connor added: “The actions we’re taking to improve integrity underscore the Australian values of fairness and inclusion, which are at the heart of our vocational education and training sector.
“I will continue to work with my cabinet colleagues to reform the VET sector and ensure the Australian Skills Quality Authority has the regulatory powers it needs to prevent and remove non-genuine training providers from the sector.
“We put a high value on ensuring international students are welcomed, safe and supported and that their contribution is recognised and celebrated in Australia.”
Both the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) and Accommodation Australia said the industry would now work closely with the Government on the implementation of the strategy.
AHA CEO Stephen Ferguson said access to an effective migration program is critically important to the hotel industry nation-wide.
“Of course, we want to hire Australian workers first, but the fact is the size of our industry is such that there are huge gaps in skilled roles such as chefs we are unable to fill without overseas workers – especially in the bush,” he said.
“Ensuring we have a sufficient supply of skills in the regions is absolutely critical for the hotel sector, so we are pleased to see skilled visa processing for the regions has been given the highest priority by the Government today.
“That said, the current requirement for backpackers to spend 88 days in regional areas when applying for a second-year visa is absolutely critical for the hospitality and accommodation industries and we look forward to participating in the government’s review of this requirement.
“The migration strategy released today is a positive step forward in building a better system that works for business and the community and we look forward to taking part in reviews to make the system even fairer for all.”
Accommodation Australia CEO Michael Johnson said the migration strategy “implements a number of reforms which will improve the system, while recognising more work needs to be done.”
He added: “The new three-tiered ‘Skills in Demand’ visa to be developed will bring with it the benefit of a more streamlined approach including to the current ineffective labour market testing requirement.
“Also, the new seven-day turn-around for top tier workers above a new salary threshold of $135,000 is particularly welcome – as it will give better access to highly skilled migrants, including much needed hotel and accommodation managers.
“The recognition of the importance of the Working Holiday Maker visa, particularly to regional Australia, is also evident in the strategy and we look forward to working closely with Government on its on-going reviews.”
More than 450 submissions were received by the Parkinson review, with the Government saying today: “Our mission is clear: to build a migration system that earns the trust and confidence of our citizens and secures a safe and prosperous future for every Australian.”