The re-election of the Morrison Government on Saturday, 18 May is a surprising result, given that the polls consistently predicted a win to the Labor Party.
Both the Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon Peter Dutton MP, and the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, the Hon David Coleman MP, held their seats, and Prime Minister Morrison has confirmed that there will be no change at the top of the Home Affairs portfolio. Formal confirmation and swearing in of the new Ministry is likely to take place within the next week or so, once final election results are known.
In the lead up to the election, the Government announced a reduction in the overall annual permanent migration intake to 160,000 in 2019-2020; in real terms, this is a very small change on previous years. The Government also announced initiatives designed to attract more permanent migrants to settle in regional Australia, including expansion of Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA) to address very specific skills shortages in specific areas. We can expect to hear more about regional programs.
Unlike the Labor Party, the Government did not make substantial pre-election announcements relating to the temporary skilled migration program. Ajuria Lawyers is of the opinion that the pre-election focus on Business Sponsors becoming “accredited”, that is, attaining “trusted status” with the Department, will continue. The flow-on effect for clients is likely to be faster processing times. The trade-off for Business Sponsors, is likely to be an increase in self-assessment audits and increased resourcing of compliance activities.
Ajuria Lawyers believes it is also likely that the Government will adopt some of the recommendations of the Government-commissioned report into “The Effectiveness of the Current Temporary Visa System” which was released in April 2019. Recommendations for improvement of the Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) system, include the following:
- increase the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) to a minimum of at least $62,000, indexed annually in line with the average full-time wage;
- prioritise the review of the Australian Bureau of Statistics into ANZSCO;
- publish the reasons for changes to the Skilled Occupations Lists;
- introduce more stringent evidentiary requirements for labour market testing;
- not enter into any future trade agreements that would involve labour market testing waivers;
- better fund TAFE and vocational education sectors;
- guarantee funding for training of apprentices, if funding not met by Skilling Australians Fund levies; and
- review the use and effectiveness of Labour Agreements, and make publicly available the reasons for entering into (or renewing) Labour Agreements.
Ajuria Lawyers also notes that an independent review of the operation of the Skilling Australians Fund (that is, the training levy), must commence 18 months after the date of Royal Assent of the Act, that is, 18 months after 22 May 2018. This may create an opportunity for employers to provide feedback on the Fund’s operation, charges, and refund provisions.
Further updates will be provided as information becomes available, however overall, we do not expect to see substantial changes in permanent and temporary programs.
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