Morrison misleads about migration

Scott Morrison has misinformed the public about Australia’s net migration levels and our struggling visa system, writes Dr Abul Rizvi.

IN THE migration program of 160,000 for 2021-22 established in the budget documents, the Australian Financial Review Prime Minister Scott Morrison is reported to have said:

“We’re not even going to get close to that cap anytime soon because we’re looking to rebuild the program, reopen the lines of people that can come to Australia.”

This statement is false on both counts, but it also reveals where Morrison wants to take immigration in the future.

The Department of the Interior (DHA) will easily deliver the migration program of 160,000 in 2021-22 and is actually managing the places carefully not to exceed 160,000.

By this time in the program year, the Department will have delivered 80 to 90 percent of the program, meaning visas will have been issued.

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State/territory governments are carefully managing the allocation of places set aside for them to ensure they do not exceed their allocation.

Many state/territory governments are informing potential applicants who have filed a registration of interest with them about the remaining allocation gap this year.

Most potential applicants who have contacted state/territory governments to be nominated for a qualifying visa are told that they will have to wait until there are more allocations the next program year.

In fact, Western Australia ran out of its allocation earlier this year. His request for more allocation was accepted in March and he is getting over this very quickly.

In April, the Tasmanian government reported that its skilled migration program ‘you now only have very limited nomination places left and enough applications available to spend our full quota by the end of June 2022’.

The NSW government says the number of ‘The EOIs submitted for NSW far exceed the places available. As such, the vast majority of EOIs will not be invited to apply..

By the end of April, the Victorian government had stopped accepting new registrations of interest, having more than enough on hand. It will not start accepting new registrations of interest until July 2022.

In mid-March 2022, the SA government said it was close to exhausting its 2021-22 allocation and had requested more places from DHA.

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DHA has tens of thousands of Expressions of Interest in its SkillSelect system for whom it could issue an invitation to apply in the Qualified Independent category.

But due to a lack of spots on the show, he hasn’t issued any invites since January this year when he issued just 400 invites.

There is a backlog of about 30,000 applications in the Business Innovation and Investment Program that DHA could process but cannot due to a lack of places in the 160,000 migration program.

The visa application delays for many categories are more than enough to offer a much larger program.

Instead of “no getting closer” to delivering the 2021-22 program as the Prime Minister says, it would be more accurate to say that the Government is struggling to manage the visa system, which is paralyzed and in chaos.

But then why has the Prime Minister said that his Government will not come close to meeting the migration schedule laid out in his budget documents and does he need “reopen the ranks of people who can come to Australia”?

That’s because he’s under intense pressure from nearly every business lobby group in the country to urgently ramp up the program and needed an excuse not to do so before the election.

Due to the severe labor shortage that is putting many businesses under great pressure, the Business Council of Australia has demanded that the migration program be initially increased to 220,000 annual and then settled at 190,000 annual in the long run.

The Treasury itself has assumed that the immigration program will be increased to 190,000 annual.

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That’s essential to meet the government’s long-term forecast of a net migration of 235,000. annual – Net migration measures the actual level of permanent and long-term movements of people, which in turn is central to the Prime Minister’s promise to create 1.3 million jobs over the next five years.

Job creation and stronger economic growth is the Prime Minister’s way of saying Australia will get its public debt under control.

So why doesn’t the Prime Minister just say that the Government will easily deliver the 160,000 program in 2021-22 and increase the program in the future as business lobbyists demand it and the Treasury has taken over?

No prime minister since Robert Menzies and Harold Holt has gone into an election promising higher levels of immigration.

Morrison knows that he would lose the election if he revealed his intention to significantly increase immigration levels; he remembers the “Greater Australia” debate sparked by Kevin Rudd.

In fact, Morrison is planning much higher levels of net migration than Rudd ever dreamed of.

Even parts of Murdoch’s press would attack him for it. Not because it’s necessarily a bad thing. It’s just that some parts of the Murdoch press hate immigration and many of his readers feel the same way.

But for Morrison to egregiously mislead the Australian public about his plans for more immigration, but with no plans to address the chaos in the visa system, is just appalling.

The debate about immigration in Australia is often really simple.

Dr. Abul Rizvi is a freelance columnist from Australia and former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Immigration. You can follow Abul on Twitter @RizviAbul.

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