David Coleman will be sworn in as Australia’s New Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs on 29 August 2018, after last week’s leadership spill culminated in the appointment of Scott Morrison as Australia’s new Prime Minister and a subsequent cabinet reshuffle.
Scott Morrison has decided Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs will be managed by David Coleman as a single Department. Previously Immigration policy was managed alongside Australian security, law enforcement and border protection under the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, which was later renamed the Department of Home Affairs. The restructure realigns Immigration with Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, which suggests direction for these policy areas will be less fragmented than when these responsibilities were managed by three separate Ministers.
An economic approach to Australia’s migration intake
As Australia’s former Treasurer, Scott Morrison has confirmed his economic outlook on migration and its benefits to businesses and the community. He said, “Immigration, of course forms part of national security policy, but it also has always played an important role in economic and social policy, and I’ve had quite a bit of experience with this myself.” Scott Morrison was Australia’s Minister of Immigration in 2013 and it will be interesting to see whether his Government increases skilled migration numbers in coming months.
Under Peter Dutton’s leadership as Minister of Immigration, Australia’s annual migration level of 190,000 dipped 10 per cent in 2017/18 – the lowest in a decade. As he pushed to reduce Australia’s migration intake below 162,000 a year, Scott Morrison warned this would hurt economic growth and Australia’s ageing population.
Now as Prime Minister, Scott Morrison says he wishes to take control of the population debate as a top economic priority. He has arranged for former Citizenship Minister, Alan Tudge to oversee the Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population portfolio in order to tackle “congestion busting” and the responsibility of “ensuring we have the appropriate services and infrastructure response to our population.” It is encouraging that a Ministerial portfolio has been developed to ensure Australia proactively plans for the right infrastructure to manage congestion and future population growth rather than resorting to cut migration levels.
It is likely the new Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, David Coleman will also share an economic viewpoint on migration, given his background as the former Assistance Minister for Finance. Scott Morrison said, “David has a keen understanding of the many different backgrounds and the many different issues that need to be managed to ensure that Australians who have come from so many backgrounds get that fair go I spoke of.”
Under the leadership changes, Peter Dutton will no longer have responsibility over Australia’s migration intake as he will oversee security, law enforcement and border protection. Australia’s new Minister of Immigration, David Coleman will not have a voice in Cabinet however and will remain under the Home Affairs portfolio, which will continue to be led by Peter Dutton. Additionally, Peter Dutton will also retain control over visa compliance checks, which are currently managed by the Australian Border Force.
Businesses call for an open discussion on skilled migration and the need for greater efficiency
Since the leadership change, businesses and industry groups have shared their views on skilled migration reforms. Ms Lambert from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry says she was ‘unsettled’ by current immigration debate and called for the Morrison Government to lead open discussion on the importance of skilled migration to businesses and industry growth. We are also hopeful that the Morrison Government will address growing wait times for visa approvals, which have blown out considerably in the past year. Currently there are approximately 176,000 individuals on bridging visas waiting for decisions on visa applications – a growth of 40,000 in the past year.
We expect citizenship changes which were previously scheduled for debate in upcoming parliamentary sittings, may be delayed or reconsidered entirely. Further details as to whether David Coleman will assume ministerial powers in the Migration Act, including the ability to cancel visas are expected over coming days and it will be interesting to see how the Morrison Government will begin to approach skilled migration policy issues. To find out your visa or sponsorship options, contact our registered migration agents for a free assessment on +61 8 9221 3388 (or National Free Call 1800 449 858) or [email protected]