Australia announces plan to halve immigration to fix ‘broken’ system

Australia has announced plans to halve immigrations levels within two years in a bid to fix a “broken” system.

Its government says it wants to reduce the annual intake to 250,000 people by June 2025. This would roughly be the level it was pre-pandemic.

Under new plans from the Australian government, rules for international students and low-skilled workers would be tightened. Politicians are concerned record levels of immigration has created pressure on the housing system and infrastructure, reports the BBC.

There does however continue to be a shortage of skilled workers moving to Australia. Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil unveiled the new 10-year strategy on Monday.

She said the system had been “left in tatters” by previous administrations. While a review earlier this year said the system was “badly broken” and in need of “major reform”.

In the year leading to June 2023, a record 510,000 people migrated to Australia. O’Neil said the government needed to “bring numbers back under control”.

New measures set to be introduced include tougher English-language requirements for foreign students and more strutiny for people applying for a second visa – they will have to prove further study would advance their academic aspirations or their future careers.

Current data suggests there are around 650,000 foreign students in Australia. Many of them are on a second visa, says official statistics.

Visa pathways for migrants with “specialist” or “essential skills” have also been improved. These include highly-skilled tech workers and people in the care sector.

O’Neil says the new policies will attract more of the workers Australia needs. She says it will also reduce the risk of exploitation for those living, working and studying in the country.

Dan Tehan, migration spokesman for the opposition, said the government had been too slow to adjust policies designed to recover from the pandemic. He said: “The horse has bolted when it comes to migration and the government not only cannot catch it but cannot find it.”

The Australian government has been under pressures to reduce migration in recent weeks as the country battles with a housing crisis driven by a lack of homes. However others, like the Business Council of Australia, have said migrants are being used as a scapegoat for a lack of investment in affordable housing and decades of poor housing policy.

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