Australia is to produce an annual report on the country’s future immigration levels in a bid to provide more accurate short term forecasts of population requirements and for planning and investment purposes.
The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen, has released a mini report, The Outlook for Net Overseas Migration: May 2011, as the first step towards a comprehensive annual report on Australia’s future immigration levels.
‘The new annual report will provide short term forecasts of Australia’s future immigration levels for the first time to inform planning and investment decisions,’ Bowen said. The aim is to help migration policy to be driven by genuine economic needs rather than by the desire of people to live permanently in the country.
‘It will complement the Sustainable Population Strategy and provide more information to assist government and community planning to better manage population change,’ he added.
The report will forecast the level, composition and distribution of net overseas migration (NOM) across states, territories and regions over the medium term.
It will be underpinned by a long-term migration-planning framework that will look beyond the annual permanent migration program to examine both temporary and permanent migration over a number of years, he explained.
The first comprehensive annual report is expected to be published next year, with The Outlook for Net Overseas Migration mini reports to be released each quarter.
The Outlook for Net Overseas Migration: May 2011 takes into account the latest economic outlook and other changes announced in the 2011/12 Budget.
The report shows that migration accounted for almost 70% of population growth in the recent past but it is now down and more consistent with historical contributions to population growth averaging between 45 and 50%.
Net overseas migration has outstripped the natural increase. It also shows that is the excess of births over deaths in the population since 2005. Even though the total fertility rate has shown some growth in recent years and is around 1.9 births per woman, it remains below replacement levels of 2.1 births per woman.
Overall NOM is on its way down and this is leading to lower population growth. Australia’s annual population growth rate slowed to 1.57% in the year ending September 2010, down from its peak growth rate of 2.2% for the year ending December 2008.
The report says that it is anticipated that as the economy gathers strength, employers will look to immigration to address skills shortages, pushing up the demand for subclass 457 visa holders. Similarly, there are indications that there will be increased number of Working Holiday Makers.
However, it is also expected that the contribution to NOM of international students will continue to ease over the projected period before stabilising, due to re-establishing the balance between their inflows and outflows. This downside impact partially offsets the projected increase in NOM from a continued economic recovery.
‘The latest forecasts show NOM will continue to decline to about 160 000 people by June 2011. Beyond June 2011, NOM should stabilise at around 170 000 to 180 000 people per year. The government’s recent reforms have contributed to a decline in NOM levels by almost half from its peak of over 315 000 people for the year ending December 2008,’ said Bowen.
Even though NOM has been declining, the report projects that Australia will see an increase in the share of skilled migrants from around 25% in 2009 to 43% by 2014.
The department is also implementing a Long Term Migration Planning Framework to ensure that Australia’s future immigration levels are guided by the genuine economic needs of the country, rather than by the desire of prospective migrants to live in Australia.