Australia’s 2022-23 Migration Program
The submission to the Department of Home Affairs (Department) in response to the 2022-23 Migration Program was preapared by the Law Council of Australia. The Law Council’s submission addresses each of the questions in the Department’s Discussion Paper, ‘Planning Australia’s 2022-23 Migration Program’ (Discussion Paper).
The Law Council considers that the 2022-23 Migration Program should be sufficiently large to address the present skills shortages in the economy and to rebuild population growth in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as ensure that the family migration backlogs can be adequately addressed. It expects this figure would be an increase on the figure of 160,000 from recent years, the determination of a final figure is best left to the Australian Government.
In terms of composition, within the Skill stream, in recent years the global talent pathway has proven successful in efficiently delivering a visa outcome to talented applicants, and this dynamism has driven demand and supply of this type of visa. However, global talent visas are not accessible to all skilled migrants, and the pathway is not best directed to address skills shortages, particularly in semi-skilled labour. As a result, it is necessary to ensure that skilled occupation visas remain attractive as alternative pathways for skilled and talented people seeking an opportunity to work and live in Australia.
Demand for, and supply of, skilled occupation visas has dropped in recent years, and the Law Council considers a number of reforms are required to that program to increase its attractiveness to migrants. These reforms are detailed in the submission, and they include modernising the occupation lists, improving the transition from temporary skill visas to permanent residency, and relaxing some of the criteria for temporary skilled visas. Changes could also be made to improve certainty for global talent visa applicants.
Within the Family stream, the Law Council considers that allocation to the Partner visa sub-stream must remain at a figure which will enable all applications to be processed expeditiously, particularly if there is no amendment to Direction 80, which places former boat arrivals who hold permanent Protection visas on the lowest priority for processing.
The Law Council also considers that the Department should take action to arrest to increasing backlog in Parent visas. While Parent visa holders may not have as beneficial impact on the economy as other migrants, access to family reunion is relevant to a country’s attractiveness for skilled migration, and there are also social and community benefits to completing the family unit for migrant families.
The Law Council proposes several measures to improve the economic security of migrant women by bolstering the availability of visas to migrant women experiencing family violence, particularly those who are secondary holders of a temporary visa.
Finally, in relation to questions of social cohesion, the Law Council considers that there is an intrinsic benefit to a robust migrant scheme – both in its impact on society generally and within migrant families. It also considers that social cohesion is enhanced by a non-discriminatory migration system and changes could be made to address this, particularly in relation to former boat arrivals.