Law Council of Australia

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Inquiry into Migration, Pathway to Nation Building

12 May 2023

On 12 May 2023, a panel of expert witnesses appeared before the Joint Committee on Migration, to give evidence on behalf of the Law Council of Australia, in relation to the Committee’s inquiry – Migration, Pathway to Nation Building. Specifically, the Law Council was represented by members of the Migration Law Committee of its Federal Dispute Resolution Section – Chair, Mrs Valerie Pereira; Deputy Chair, Mr Chris Spentzaris; and member, Ms Lena Hung – and Mr Matt Wood, Principal Policy Lawyer in the Law Council’s Policy Division.

The Law Council’s appearance at the parliamentary hearing followed its comprehensive submission to the Committee, dated 31 March 2023.

This submission, which drew on a number of substantive contributions from Constituent Bodies, made several substantive recommendations underpinned by the following reform principles:

(a) there should be identifiable pathways to permanent residence for visas in the GSM and employer sponsored visa programs;

(b) the Skilled Migration Program should be made more flexible and should no longer be based on static assessments of ‘skill shortages’;

(c) attention should be given to removing overly prescriptive aspects of the visa processing framework which impede dynamic and responsive visa processing;

(d) mitigating migrant worker exploitation requires a holistic approach to addressing employer nomination settings, migrant complaint options, and enforcement;

(e) meaningful access to family reunion is critical to attracting migrants with appropriate skills, experience and training, in addition to the social and community benefits of completing the family unit;

(f) the Australian Government and the Department of Home Affairs should continue to work expeditiously to reduce visa processing backlogs; and

(g) a migrant worker should be entitled to the same pay and conditions, and workplace protections, as an Australian worker.

The Law Council had the opportunity during the hearing (transcript – at the time of writing, still verbatim) to reiterate some key principles and recommendations in its submission.

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