Temporary skilled migrants have been an “overwhelming net positive” for the Australian economy, according to a new report, which also revealed immigration has not undercut job opportunities, conditions or wages for domestic workers.
The report from the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), ‘Effects of temporary migration’, found 70 per cent of temporary skilled migrants live in NSW and Victoria, the states with the lowest unemployment rates in Australia.
The report, released on Monday, said there were nearly two million temporary migrants in Australia in early 2019, including international students, working holidaymakers, skilled workers and New Zealand citizens.
While these workers do not benefit from free or subsidised government services, they still contribute to tax revenues, “resulting in a net benefit to government budgets”, the report said.
“Despite repeated claims and assertions, the evidence suggests that the success of recent waves of migrants in the labour force does not come at the expense of Australian workers,” the report added.
However, “governments have responded to community concern with a seeming revolving door of reviews, reports and frequent policy changes to Australia’s temporary skilled migration programs,” the report said.
The most recent policy change was the replacement of the Subclass 457 visa with Temporary Work (Skilled) visa, which came into effect in March 2018. Then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull justified the change by saying he was “putting Australians first” by giving them priority for jobs open to overseas workers.
But CEDA CEO Melinda Cilento said changes like this, which make it harder for temporary skilled workers to gain permanent residency, could discourage the “best and brightest workers” from coming to Australia.
“We need to make it easier for business to import the best global talent and expertise,” Ms Cilento said.
Temporary skilled migrants of working age make up less than one per cent of Australia’s labour force, according to the report. They tend to hold higher-paid jobs, with a base salary of around $95,000.
The top four occupations granted visas in 2017-18 were developer programmer, ICT business analyst, university lecturer and cook.
The report recommended that the government should improve its process of identifying eligible occupations for temporary skilled migration by being more transparent about its data and methods.
Katherine O’Chee / email@example.com
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