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Political Winds Begin to Blow Against Migration

Posted on March 2, 2017 at 1:40 AM

Today's Australian media carried the news that the Government has moved to stop 457 skilled migration for positions with fast food chains.  The popular media has supported this move, saying that such migration was taking jobs away from young Australians.

But neither this Government policy nor the subsequent media commentary should come as no surprise.  The developed world has seen distinct anti-migration sentiment in recent times,as demonstrated by for example Britain's exit from the European Union and the election as President of Donald Trump in the United States.

Australia is no different, with the increasing popularity of politicians with an anti-migration stance, such as Pauline Hanson and her One Nation party. Even mainstream politics is reacting to this sentiment, including the Federal Liberal/National Coalition Government, and the Labor Opposition.

Hence today's announcement was quite predictable.  But is it the thin end of the wedge, with more restrictions on immigration soon to be announced?

One would hope not, as immigration has been crucial to Australia's economic and social development.  During my almost 4 years as NSW Deputy Premier, I introduced a new State Migration Strategy, which gave greater emphasis to "high value" migrants, including investors, entrepreneurs, businesspeople and skilled migrants.  This policy has no doubt boosted the NSW economy, now easily the strongest performing economy in the nation.

But oftentimes, politics triumphs over good policy, so further restrictions on migration are in my view likely.  The upshot for those considering migrating to Australia is that they should not delay their decisions for too long.

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