The projections in the federal budget papers project that a major number of migrants cannot return to Australia for at least one more year. Even the migrants which have been given permanent residency after the 1st of January in 2022 will have to wait for four more years because of payments related to social security. $671.1 million would be the net amount of savings in the next five years which this cost-cutting measure will produce. The government will then redirect this to fund policy priorities. Similar to the previous year, in the migration program, there will be a total of 160,000 places with 77,300 places for family reunions and 79,600 places for skilled migrants. 5,000 places of Australia’s humanitarian intake were reduced last year and this year, it will continue at 13,750 places.
On Christmas Island, the Australian government will spend, for over two years, an amount of $464.7 million for the onshore immigration detention network and also for the extension of the usage of the North West Point Immigration Detention Centre
In the mid of the year 2022, Australia might witness the return of temporary as well as permanent migrants in a gradual manner as per the government. Under small phased programs, it is predicted that international students will return later in 2021. Except for the passengers coming from Safe Travel Zones, the state and territory quarantine caps will continue the constraints put on the rate of international arrivals.
Shanthi Robertson, who is a migration researcher from the University of Western Sydney, said that it might be surprising for some to hear that the border shutdowns will be extended till 2022 but the vaccine rollout is going on at a slow rate in Australia. Closing down of borders will lead to the migration numbers falling. Although the expected drop in overseas migration is by 72,000 but is currently predicted that there will be a 97,000 drop in June.
For the year 2021-22, the budget estimates that the fall in migration will be by 77,000 but for the year, 2024-25, it has also estimated a rise by 235,000. As per Gabriela D’Souza, who is a senior economist at the CEDA (Committee for Economic Development of Australia), the lack of migration will cast its impact on Australia’s growth of population and she also said that it is a matter of disappointment since the few upcoming years will not witness much migration which the government’s population growth predictions take into account. She also added that this lack of migration is a reason why businesses are not getting enough workers and the country is also missing out on the major talent. The country’s quarantine capacity cannot afford to take in a large volume of people and the government is letting the states handle this.
The population growth used to be 1.5% but now, it has reduced and remained merely 0.1% this year. An associate professor of economics at Monash University, He-ling Shi said that Australia needs to have moderate population growth which is necessary to safeguard the country’s long-term economic development.
The waiting time for the newly arrived migrants in Australia, for availing the benefits of carers payments, family tax benefits A and B and also for parental leave pay has increased from two years to four years now. The other welfare payments like Austudy and JobSeeker already required four years of waiting. The government has said that this decision would account for other policy priorities.
Cassandra Goldie, who is from the Australian Council of Social Services stated that this was a concerning decision and it is a large cut to the social security. She also said that they should not leave the people who have newly arrived in the country, in a state of hardship.
Dr. Robertson, who is from the University of Western Sydney said that this decision will mainly cast its effect on the new migrant families which have lower incomes. Already many onshore migrants have been in Australia for a very long time before they attain permanent residency. They live in the country and pay taxes but do not get access to the benefits. She also said that many of the migrants have worked in the aged-care and health sectors.
MR. Al-Khafaji, who is from FECCA said that the waiting period measure was disappointing because the pandemic is not yet over and many people are already struggling to get a job. The government is responsible for taking care of the community and especially, the vulnerable members.
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