The Government has launched a parliamentary inquiry into Australia’s migration program as part of its focus on encouraging migrants to live and work in regional areas. While Australia’s permanent migration intake rate has already been formally reduced by 30,000 places each year over the next four years, temporary migration figures are now coming into the spotlight amid ongoing congestion concerns in Sydney and Melbourne.
Last year in 2018, statistics released by the Department of Home Affairs showed 87% of skilled migrants settle in Sydney or Melbourne, while rural areas continue to struggle to find workers. Concerns of congestion in capital cities have recently been reignited by the release of an audit by Infrastructure Australia, which found congestion in major cities was costing $19 billion a year.
The media now seems to be focusing on Net Overseas Migration figures, which takes into account the total number of migrants on a temporary or permanent visa in Australia at any given time. April’s Federal Budget figures show Australia’s Total Net Overseas Migration will peak at 271,000 this year, which is 50,000 more than 2018-19 Federal Budget planning levels.
Parliamentary inquiry to review Australian immigration
The Government’s parliamentary inquiry will consider the separate views of the Treasury, Infrastructure and Home Affairs portfolio areas to confirm the direction of Australia’s immigration policy in relation to:
- Australia’s temporary and permanent migration rate and its impact on infrastructure
- The economic benefits of migration
- Incentives to encourage migrants to settle outside Sydney and Melbourne
The parliamentary inquiry will also examine the reasons why regional Australia has attracted less than 20 per cent of overseas arrivals. We will keep you updated on the outcome and its impact on visa pathways in regional and metropolitan areas.
Establishing the new Regional Migration Program
As part of the Government’s focus on encouraging migrants to live and work in regional areas, two new Regional Visas will be introduced in November 2019. These visas will provide pathways to permanent residence after three years of living and working in a regional area.
Under the Migration Amendment (New Skilled Regional Visas) Regulations 2019, the classification of ‘regional areas’ for visa and migration purposes will also change to encompass all of Australia except Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. The new definition will widen the availability of the regional skilled visa programs to employers across a broader area of Australia.
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