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By Joseph Ballota

A deeper dive on Australia’s high migration trends

Who are Australia's migrants?

In his article in The New Daily, leading demographer Simon Kuestenmacher discussed the likelihood of future Australian governments maintaining our high migration approach.

So, let's delve deeper into the makeup of these migrants and the implications of our current immigration policy..


Understanding the migration pattern

Let's look at an average year of migration over the past decade, focusing on visa types rather than origins.

According to Kuestenmacher, while news often highlights net overseas migration, the real story is more nuanced.

Australia typically sees more arrivals than departures, contributing significantly to population growth—about two-thirds, in fact.

The reported average of 215,000 new migrants annually doesn't fully capture the whole picture.

Typically, 485,000 people arrive in Australia each year, with about 270,000 heading in the opposite direction.

This results in a net growth of 215,000 migrants.

The chart here illustrates this well.

Migrant Arrivals And Departures From 2004 To 2023

Source: The New Daily

Notice the uptick in arrivals post-pandemic, peaking at 737,000 in 2022/23.

This spike, often discussed controversially, was driven primarily by a surge in international education demands.

Kuestenmacher said that there was a notable increase in student visas—118,000 more than pre-pandemic levels.

Additionally, a special pandemic-era bridging visa, now discontinued, contributed to about 33,000 extra migrants, predominantly students.

These are temporary residents and will eventually reflect as departures.

So who's coming to Australia?

Excluding tourists, about 15% of our annual migration intake comprises Australians returning from abroad, and another 6% are New Zealanders.

So, 21% of our intake is essentially untouchable in terms of reduction.

The remainder is split between permanent (17%) and temporary visas (61%).

Surprisingly, only 7% are skilled permanent visas, and even then, we're only netting an additional 28,000 skilled workers yearly—a number unlikely to decrease given our current skills shortage.

Average Annual Migrant Arrivals By Visa Type Between 2013 And 2023

Source: The New Daily

Can we reduce the number of visas granted?

Family visas account for 5% of all visas.

Kuestenmacher believes that tightening these might pose moral challenges, as it involves families of migrants already in the country.

Meanwhile, Australia accepts around 12,000 humanitarian migrants annually.

With our skills shortage, particularly in aged care, granting more working rights to asylum seekers could be a practical solution.

Temporary visas, predominantly international students, make up 61% of our annual migration intake.

Any significant reduction in migration would likely target this area.

However, this comes with its own set of implications, including financial ones for our education sector, said Kuestenmacher.

Reducing working holiday visas, which account for 9% of the intake, would be counterproductive.

In my mind, these young visitors not only fill job shortages but also contribute economically through their spending.


In conclusion...

Examining the different visa categories, it's hard to identify where significant cuts could be made without consequences.

Last year’s high figure of 737,000 migrants is an outlier, and future governments are likely to aim for a more stable figure of around 500,000 annually.

Whether we increase or decrease migration by 100,000, the primary challenge remains: boosting our housing stock significantly to accommodate this influx.

About Joseph Ballota Joseph is a Property Coach who put hundreds of people on the road towards wiping away their mortgage in under 5 years through expert Property Investment Plans.
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