“The roads are clogged; the buses and trains are full. The schools are taking no more enrolments. I hear what you are saying. I hear you loud and clear.” Scott Morrison, Australian Prime Minister, November 2018.
In March this year the PM announced a 15% cut in the ‘official migration ceiling’ from 190,000 to 160,000 places per year.
The PM also proposed a visa scheme to help entice migrants to regional areas.
Yet last month the federal budget papers forecast Net Overseas Migration (NOM) to be between 240,000 to 260,000 for 2019 and hold steady above 260,000 per annum out to 2022.
And last year (2017/18) some 526,270 migrants came to Australia, whilst another 289,050 nomads left. The NOM result for fiscal 2018 was 237,220, which is down 26,130 or 10% on the year before.
So, let’s break this stuff down into smaller chunks.
It pays to understand who is counted in Australia’s annual population growth.
According to the United Nations definition (which is used Downunder) a person is counted in the population of a country if they have been there for 12 months over a given 16-month this period.
It’s also worth noting that not all of the forecast 260,000+ net migrants would be affected by government policy.
Those excluded include:
- Temporary visitors
- Transient Australian and New Zealand citizens who come and go from Australia.
Those affected by government policy include temporary and permanent migrants.
- In the temporary pile are students, backpackers and skilled workers (457 visa holders). Combined these temporary migrants account for 78% of NOM in 2018, with students holding a 42% share.
- In the permanent category - which accounted for just 28% of the most recent NOM count - are skilled migrants; family reunions and those here on humanitarian visas.
So, who do you cut?
Cutting student numbers would be the obviously place to start – with a 42% market share - but they are worth an estimated $31 billion to our economy.
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Cut backpacker numbers?
They accounted for 12% of the latest NOM count, but the rural sector is already struggling to fill job opportunities in regional areas.
Stop family reunions with 9% of the 2018 NOM count?
Well maybe until it is your child, another relative or close friend that has moved overseas, partnered with a citizen from another country and they want to come back to Oz to live.
Oh, and before you say, “slash the 457 visa holders”, they made up just 5% of the 2018 NOM intake and many Australian businesses, and especially in the technology sector, are hungry for the right skilled labour.
Of course we could change the rules and start keeping the Kiwis out.
They held a 3% market share of the 2018 NOM result. But I like to cross the ditch too much to seriously advocate such as policy change.
Maybe the problem is more to do with a lack of infrastructure investment; our overbearing sense of entitlement and, quite frankly, our living beyond our means.
We all like to whinge about the increasing traffic but relish the economic benefits of an expanding population.
Cutting the official influx by 30,000 migrants will have little real impact. It is just another con.
By my estimates between 45% and 50% of the annual NOM results are not influenced by government policy.
Sadly, the whole federal election campaign is all about “where’s mine?” rather than any plausible long-term vision and action plan.