Australia Faces Population Slump But Migration Will Return
Australia has always been regarded as one of the most migrant-friendly countries in the world, whether in regards to its work culture or cost of living. In 2018, over 29% of the country’s population were born overseas.
However, the country has seen dramatic changes in migration policies in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which poses severe threats to health and safety as well as the dreaded economic downturn.
But fret not; all hope is not lost if you want to immigrate to Australia from Singapore. The government’s recent budget review has reflected a focus on migration policies to attract skilled labourers and travellers. Here are four things to take note of.
- Federal budget undergoes a review
When Australian politician and treasurer of the Library Party Josh Frydenberg unveiled the federal budget in May, there was a heavy emphasis on the change in population growth.
The budget covered a wide range of topics, such as the likelihood of remaining in a budget deficit over the next 40 years to come. Frydenberg also assumed that all Australians would be vaccinated against the coronavirus by the end of 2021.
The Treasury report highlighted population growth as a key concern. An ageing population poses many problems for the economy. Aside from a smaller workforce, the working population would also shoulder a larger burden when caring for the elderly. It is estimated that by 2060, less than three working adults would be working for every Australian over 65.
Hence, a review of migration policies is necessary to ensure continued population growth and prevent an ageing population. At the same time, medical advice will steer the government in the right direction when deciding on border policies.
Frydenberg emphasised that public safety will affect economic recovery, so following medical and scientific advice will protect both the current population and the economy in the long run.
- Dramatic change in the composition of population growth
Beyond worries about an ageing population, the Morrison government also faces the challenge of low fertility rates.
Historically, migration was the main driver of Australia’s population growth. However, according to a report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, this trend has changed dramatically since the onset of the pandemic. Local births accounted for 98 per cent of population growth in 2020.
The reason behind this dramatic change lies in the shifts in migration patterns. Birth and death rates have remained consistent without much variation, but international travel and immigrants from overseas fell sharply. In 2019, the net migration rate was 6.157 per 1000 members of the population, and it fell by 8% to 5.665 per 1000 in 2021.
Population growth is necessary for an economy to sustain continued growth and account for an ageing population. The government’s reliance on migration as a continued driver of economic growth will encourage the development of new migration policies to develop the economy and Australia’s society.
- Travellers are kept away, but not for long
The Morrison government rejected the concept of a “fortress Australia”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison corrected current assumptions about Australia’s COVID-19 suppression strategy, and he claimed that there was no “elimination strategy” or goal for “zero cases”.
He also acknowledged that the return of Australians from abroad will always pose the risk of COVID-19 cases. However, international borders would have to close to prevent a severe outbreak until it is “safe” to reopen them.
It is already difficult for Australians to return home. Currently, the limited number of weekly arrivals has caused prices to shoot up. To return from London to Sydney, a one-way flight in economy class already costs as much as $28,000. Travellers will definitely not be able to enter the country as of now, but the Morrison government promises changes in both travel and immigration programmes.
The risk of COVID-19 and poor growth prospects require a careful balancing act. As the government aims to keep transmission rates low for the rest of the year, they are also looking to reopen the borders in the following year. Migrants will soon return via a “generous, sustainable immigration programme”, and Australia will continue to be an “open, tolerant, diverse country”.
- The hospitality sector has been hit especially hard
The government has also expressed concerns about the hospitality sector, which has been hit especially hard due to its high reliance on migrant workers, who often come for temporary periods on working visas.
From experienced chefs to international students working as part-time staff, the closed borders have revealed the importance of migrants in the hospitality sector.
In the middle of May 2021, there were over 46,000 job openings in the hospitality sector. Other sectors such as finance and engineering are also experiencing a massive shortage of skilled applicants.
To combat this, the government expanded the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List to include over 20 new positions in these sectors, with calls for engineers, chefs, and auditors.
As regulations are reviewed in line with the severity of the pandemic, Australia will once again welcome migrants to protect the country’s economic and population growth. If you intend to migrate in the near future, continue to work on your application and upskill yourself to ride upon this new wave of employment opportunities.
Moving to Australia from Singapore does not have to be an intimidating process. Let NTRUST assist you with our experience and familiarity with the various application processes. While we do assist in Work visa applications, we also offer services for Family Migration and Business Migration visas. Whichever visa application you’re looking towards, we’re here to help. To get started, simply contact us at +65 6299 0245 to learn more.