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Australia introduces plan to cut migrant intake by 50%

Courtesy: Geo News/AFP

Australia aims to fix “broken” immigration system with strict language and visa rules.

The Australian government on Monday announced a new 10-year immigration strategy aimed at addressing its “broken” immigration system.

According to the BBC, the plan involves striking down the migration intake by “around 50%” within two years, to reduce the annual intake to 250,000 by June 2025.

In addition to this, the plan will also tighten visa rules for international students and low-skilled workers, as the country has been facing housing and infrastructure issues due to record-high migration levels.

Despite these changes, the country is still struggling to attract skilled workers to fill the gaps in the labour market.

At a media briefing on Monday, Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil stated that the migration system had been left “in tatters” by the previous government.

A review earlier this year found that the system was “badly broken” and in need of “major reform” as it was unnecessarily complex, slow and inefficient.

The minister vowed that her government would “bring numbers back under control” and reduce the annual migration intake by around 50% after a record 510,000 people came to Australia in the year to June 2023.

Australia has toughened English-language requirements for international students and increased scrutiny for those applying for a second visa.

The country has 650,000 foreign students, many on their second visa. Additionally, visa pathways for migrants with “specialist” or “essential” skills have been tweaked to improve their chances of permanent residency.

The new policies will attract more of the workers Australia needs and help reduce the risk of exploitation for those who live, work and study in the country, O’Neil said.

According to the BBC, opposition migration spokesman Dan Tehan said that the government was “too slow to adjust migration policies designed to help Australia recover from the pandemic.”

“The horse has bolted when it comes to migration and the government not only cannot catch it but cannot find it,” he said at the weekend.

The Labor government’s popularity has declined since its election, prompting pressure to temporarily reduce migration to alleviate Australia’s housing crisis.

However, the Business Council of Australia said that migrants are being used as a scapegoat for inadequate investment in affordable housing and poor policy.

1- Header image: Chinese tourists take photographs in front of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge on September 27, 2023. — AFP

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