The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has urged the government to increase its annual skilled migration intake to 200,000 people.
The ACCI suggested that such a revamp to Australia’s migration program is necessary in order to address the severe skill shortages in the country.
The ACCI also said that nearly doubling the skilled migration program intake would allow Australia to secure its economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.
In its “Better Australia” strategy, the ACCI outlined 10 recommended measures to improve Australia’s economic performance by 2050.
As part of these recommendations, the ACCI suggested that around 200,000 skilled migrants could be allowed to enter Australia every year.
Before the pandemic halted international travel, around 120,000 – 150,000 skilled migrants arrived in Australia every year.
However, with lockdowns and border closures put in place to tackle the pandemic, migration to Australia has lost its momentum, leading to severe skills shortages across Australian industries.
Allowing 200,000 skilled migrants to arrive in Australia per year would help promote a more robust economy and boost the country’s job sector overall, said ACCI chief executive Andrew McKellar.
He also said that ensuring quarantine-free travel for migrants would play a crucial part in reaching a solution favourable to Australia’s economy.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who also spoke at the ACCI event, said that the Australian government was thinking about improving the migration program.
He said that migrants tend to be younger compared to the broader population, which would impact the Australian economy and population demographics.
In addition to increasing the number of skilled migrants allowed to enter Australia, the ACCI’s strategy also urged the government to recognise the long-term benefits of both permanent and temporary migration to Australia.
The report mentioned that focusing on younger and more skilled migrants would allow Australia to counter an ageing population and the anticipated decrease in the tax base and competitiveness.
Elsewhere, Fitch Ratings suggested that the halt in Australian migration could harm the country’s potential GDP growth over the medium term.
It suggested that Australia’s growth potential was expected to fall from 2.9 per cent to 2.1 per cent a year and that pre-pandemic levels were unlikely to be reached before 2023.