The size of Australia’s temporary migration intake has again come under the spotlight. In a recent policy speech, Opposition Home Affairs spokeswoman, Kristina Kenneally, emphasised that while changes to immigration policies have reduced the annual permanent migration intake, temporary migration figures continue to increase.
Ms Kenneally highlighted that according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Australia is now home to the second largest temporary migrant workforce in the world, with the number of people on temporary visas jumping from 1.8 million to 2.2 million in the past four years.
She believes that a growing number of temporary visa holders with limited access to permanent residence (PR) could increase risks of exploitation and social disengagement in the community.
Ms Kenneally argued that the availability of permanent migration needed to be reconsidered amid the rise in temporary migration. She said, “This is about whether we want to stop people working in Australia from putting down roots, raising a family, starting a business, creating ties with their neighbours through sport, volunteering, church or community.”
The Senate Committee’s Review into Australia’s Temporary Migration
Australia’s temporary migration is currently being reviewed by a Senate Committee established on 5 December 2019 to ‘inquire into… the impact temporary migration has on the Australian economy, wages and jobs, social cohesion and workplace rights and conditions.’
Abul Rizvi, a previous senior official in the Department of Immigration from the 1990’s to 2007, believes the Senate Committee should seek to ensure the migration program provides sensible and clear pathways to PR for temporary entrants who meet Australia’s needs.
It will be interesting to hear the Senate Committee’s policy recommendations following their review. We will certainly keep you updated as the political debate continues.
As you may know, since the Temporary Skills Shortage TSS 482 Visa recently replaced the 457 Visa in 2018, PR pathways have become more limited for many temporary skilled visa holders. However, it’s worth noting the new Regional 494 Visa has introduced PR options for skilled migrants to live in Perth or any area outside of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.