Migration reform is underway, says O’Neil, as skills shortages mount

Home Secretary Clare O’Neil. Source: Mick Tsikas / AAP Image

The federal government has said it will overhaul Australia’s migration system to better meet the needs of tomorrow’s economy, as businesses today face skills shortages partly caused by a precipitous drop in the admission of skilled migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday morning, Home Secretary Clare O’Neil announced a “comprehensive review” of the immigration system, led by experts with deep knowledge of the regulatory landscape.

These experts – Dr Martin Parkinson, former Secretary of the Prime Minister’s and Cabinet Office and Chancellor of Macquarie University; Dr Joanna Howe, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Adelaide; and John Azarias, a former senior partner at Deloitte — will lead the review, O’Neil said.

The panel will consult with businesses, unions, migrant communities and government leaders.

The end goal of the review: a new migration strategy, updating the “current visa framework, including temporary and permanent visa programs, and the processes and systems that support the administration of this framework. “, indicate the terms of reference of the examination.

Changes may include “reforms to the visa framework, the policy and legislative framework, information and communication technology systems and processes, and linkages with other parts of government.”

Talk to ABC RN breakfastO’Neil said today’s immigration system is “broken” and in need of systemic reform.

“How can we design a system that’s simple, inexpensive, fast, easy to use, and helps us get the most out of those people who want to make Australia our home?” she says.

The panel will provide an interim report to O’Neil’s office on February 28, 2023, with those findings expected to weigh heavily on Labor’s 2023-24 federal budget in May.

For small businesses, concerns about the skilled migration system have centered on its perceived inaccessibility, practical impossibility, and response to severe skills shortages.

In a submission to the Federal Government ahead of the September Jobs and Skills Summit, the Council of Small Business Organizations Australia (COSBOA) raised concerns about official skilled migration lists that outline job shortages in Australia.

“Decisions made on skilled migration lists have sometimes been arbitrary and there has not been enough consultation to understand which industries should be included,” COSBOA said.

While COSBOA said greater industry consultation on these lists could enhance their effectiveness, other groups, including the Business Council of Australiawant a simpler solution: skilled migrant visas for all workers who are expected to earn more than $90,000 a year in their jobs.

As business leaders scramble to share their views on the new review, the government has already stepped in with immigration reform measures.

On Friday, the Home Office revealed the government had removed ‘obsolete’ List of Skilled Occupations for Priority Migration, a Morrison government-era list detailing the occupations facing the greatest shortages due to the country’s closed border policy.

Comments are closed.