LOOKING FORWARD - THE LONGER VIEW
'Australia of course has long been ahead of the game in its
research into its migration policy. It's almost certainly the most
informed migration policy in the world - perhaps the world has ever
Professor John Salt, London University
Outcome One is managed not only within an annual cycle but also
within a longer term perspective.
In 2001-02 research and analysis aimed at positioning the program
strategically for the future was undertaken, especially in the
field of population. The context is graphically illustrated in Fig.
'Because of low fertility rates, many more countries will
be seeking immigrants in the future… Australia remains a
highly favoured destination… Nevertheless, similar countries
like New Zealand and Canada are struggling to maintain their net
Professor Peter McDonald, Australian National University
Australia has identified three key issues critical to our
population future: net overseas migration, the fertility rate and
labour force participation rates.
The relative importance of the first factor is demonstrated by the
fact that, on current projections, in 30 years time immigration
will be the only thing preventing Australia's population from
Professor Peter McDonald has noted that an annual rate of around
80,000 net overseas migration (which Australia has averaged in the
past) is the minimum to ensure population growth through the next
The outcome of the 2001-02 migration program will help ensure that
this long term average is achieved.
'…the rise in education levels is a crucial element in
explaining both the decline in fertility (which underlies the
ageing of the population) and the rise in productivity (which
offsets much of the fiscal problem attributed to ageing).'
Professor Steve Dowrick, Australian National University
Many commentators, including Professor Steve Dowrick, have linked
increased levels of education for women with a decline in the
As living standards rise, he argues, so families choose to have
fewer children and the rate of population growth tends to fall.
This pattern only serves to highlight the importance of skilled
migration, which increases both the absolute size of the labour
force and the proportion of skilled workers within it.
The crucial link between skilled migration and Australia's economic
and demographic future can be seen clearly in projections of the
future size of Australia's labour force.
The 13 per cent projected increase in the labour supply in the next
30 years contrasts sharply with the 80 per cent increase that
occurred in the past 30 years.
A migration program that delivers significant numbers of young,
educated and skilled workers every year will play a key role in
enhancing both the size and the productivity of Australia's future
labour force in the years of demographic transition to come.
NON-HUMANITARIAN ENTRY AND STAY
'One thing we are doing well as a nation is starting to get
into the skilled migration market…This is of great
importance, because if we want to be a high-wage, high-income
economy down the track, it will come down to our skills in the
Chris Richardson, Access Economics.
A key focus of the department's strategic approach under Outcome
One is on permanent and temporary skilled migration.
This focus has developed against a background of increasing
international competition for highly skilled migrants.
The mobility of these skilled workers has also increased, in step
with dramatic growth in the global movement of capital and trade.
The success of Australia in attracting increasing numbers of
skilled permanent migrants can be seen in Fig. 2.
IMPROVING LIVING STANDARDS AND BENEFITING THE BUDGET
In 2001-02 the migration program delivered 53,520 permanent skilled
stream visas - the largest number on record and two and half times
the size of a decade earlier.
Skill Stream entrants also had higher skills, qualifications and
English language abilities as a result of progressive reforms to
the balance and composition of the migration program.
The benefits of this increasing intake of skilled migrants have
been demonstrated by recent research.
Independent economic modelling firm Econtech, has shown that
Australian living standards increase because migrants' demands for
goods and services expand domestic output and create additional
The new migrants also bring benefits in the form of the funds that
they deposit or invest here.
Increasing skilled migration has also been a factor of Australia's
world-beating rate of productivity growth, as it has enhanced a
highly educated workforce, able to embrace and exploit
The cumulative impact of skilled migration on the living standards
of all Australians is illustrated by Fig. 3.
Skilled migrants also pay more taxes and benefit the Commonwealth
Budget - (Fig. 4). Research commissioned by DIMIA in 2001-02 has
demonstrated that State budgets are also net beneficiaries of a
Migration Program focussed on skilled migration.
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