Social Sector on Notice to Prepare for Population Debate
18 July 2018 at 12:44 pm
Government celebrations about a superior vetting process thankfully driving down the migrant intake are disingenuous and instead represent a shame, a national peak body says.
Australia last financial year took in 20,000 fewer permanent migrants than the previous year, mostly thanks to a 12,000 cut in skilled visa places and an 8,000 cut in family visas.
Total permanent migration fell to about 163,000, down from 183,000 – the lowest level in 10 years and well below the cap of 190,000, which has not been changed for this year.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said superior vetting processes were responsible for the drop, with more “fraudulent”, “dodgy” visa applications rejected.
Now a wider national focus on population policy and planning was looming, challenging the social sector to prepare to respond as the discussion tackled issues such as job security, welfare, infrastructure and services.
The Settlement Council of Australia represents about 100 migrant and refugee settlement agencies helping people with the challenge of starting a new life in a new country.
Its CEO Nick Tebbey told Pro Bono News the queue of potential migrants was long enough to meet the 190,000 target “even with all of this vetting they are celebrating”.
“That’s the disingenuous part of what they are saying,” Tebbey said.
He said the result was more a function of the effort and resources dedicated to meeting the target within the timeframe.
“It’s a shame, a missed opportunity. The 20,000 people that are not coming are otherwise people who could have been great contributors to our country,” Tebbey said.
“The success of our immigration program over the last 20 years and going back into history shows that migrants really do contribute greatly to Australia and our economy stands to gain by maintaining strong numbers of migrants.
“It is quite short-sighted to suddenly drastically reduce those numbers without having a wider discussion.”
.@billshortenmp says while the govt is making a big fuss on its cuts to the migration intake it is neglecting to mention the number of people receiving temporary work visas has blown out to 1.6 million.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) July 16, 2018
Business groups also criticised the drop with The Australian Industry Group saying the cut was “disappointing” and urged the government to “get closer to reaching the ceiling” of 190,000 places this financial year.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said cuts represented “a real crisis”, particularly for regional communities.
The Small Business Council of Australia said its members would be hurt, particularly in industries like retail and manufacturing.
Liberal backbencher, Senator Dean Smith this week was urging the Coalition government to establish an inquiry to evaluate immigration policy and its impact on Australia’s population.
At the same a special Newspoll conducted by The Australian showed 72 per cent of voters support the government scaling back the nation’s permanent migration intake, making it a winner for politicians.