Australia is set to reduce its annual migration intake by half within two years, aiming to address what it deems a “broken” immigration system. The plan, unveiled as part of a 10-year immigration strategy by Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil, aims to bring the intake down to 250,000 by June 2025.
The move follows concerns over record-high migration levels, which have intensified pressure on housing and infrastructure in the country. The plan includes tightening visa rules for international students and low-skilled workers to manage the influx more efficiently.
During the media briefing on Monday, Minister O’Neil criticized the previous government, stating that the immigration system had been neglected and left in disarray. An earlier review this year highlighted significant flaws, branding the system as needlessly complex, sluggish, and inefficient, demanding substantial reform.
The migration intake soared to a record 510,000 in the year up to June 2023. The government’s new strategy intends to curb this surge and address the issues by implementing a 50% reduction in the annual intake.
Key measures include stricter English-language standards for international students and increased scrutiny for those applying for a second visa. Additionally, improvements have been introduced to streamline visa pathways for skilled workers in sectors like technology and healthcare, offering better opportunities for permanent residency.
Minister O’Neil stressed that these changes aim to attract much-needed workers while preventing exploitation of those living, working, and studying in Australia.
The opposition, represented by migration spokesman Dan Tehan, criticized the government’s delayed response to adjusting migration policies to aid Australia’s post-pandemic recovery. He noted concerns about the government’s inability to manage the situation effectively.
Amid declining popularity and pressure to address the housing crisis, the Labor government faces scrutiny. While some advocate for a temporary reduction in migration, others, like the Business Council of Australia, believe that migrants are unfairly blamed for broader housing issues stemming from inadequate investment and longstanding housing policy failures.