Immigration policy should benefit Australia over the long term

by Ray Clancy on April 17, 2017

in Australia Immigration

Immigration policy has enduring effects on many dimensions of Australian life. Getting the policy settings right is critical to maximising community wellbeing.

The current immigration system in Australia has generally served the interests of the broader country well but there is scope for change, according to a new report.

The key question that needs to be addressed by the Government is whether current policy settings are set to deliver the best outcomes for the Australian community over the longer term, says the report from Productivity Commission.

It explains that Australia’s immigration policy is its de facto population policy and decisions should be made within a broad context and explicitly take into account the associated economic, social and environmental impacts, including the differential impacts on state, territory and local governments.

Community values and perspectives should inform the policy and should be seen as a positive thing as by increasing the proportion of people in the workforce, immigration can reduce the impacts of population aging, it points out.

So the goal should be to attract immigrants who are younger and more skilled, the report suggests, adding that there are alternative ways of selecting migrants, including a specific proposal that uses price as the primary basis for rationing the permanent immigration quota.

‘Notwithstanding the downside risks and uncertainties associated with such an unprecedented system, replacing existing selection criteria with a price based system could offer a fiscal benefit to the Australian Government,’ the report says.

But it argues against such a move and argues that Government policies, including immigration policy, should not be driven solely by fiscal considerations as the relative merits of any policy needs to be assessed against a broader context that takes into account all the relevant dimensions of societal wellbeing.

‘The Commission does not support the price based proposal. There is scope for significant reforms within the current system that could deliver superior overall outcomes for the Australian

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