The Productivity Commission’s inquiry, ‘Australia’s Migrant Intake’ was released today. See here: http://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/completed/migrant-intake/report
To follow up my Twitter notes after a brief skim read of the summary, here are a couple of additional notes, with a few longer posts to follow later this week on tricky policy questions:
- The report is comprehensive and doesn’t easily fit an ideological straightjacket. For example, the Commissioners completely reject the notion of a price-based migration program, often associated with libertarian immigration advocates yet also call for higher prices for parent visas.
- The Commissioners noted and highlighted how in general the current system is operating well. This is important to reiterate, particularly when there are a raft of recommendations calling for policy change.
- The explicit call to bring migration policy ‘out of the shadows’, so to speak, by the introduction of a formal population policy sitting alongside future IGRs is a major positive in my opinion.
- The three priorities for immigration policy according to the PC – better integration of migrants after they have arrived; raising the barriers to permanent skilled visas to get better economic outcomes; and, increasing the price of parent visas – each appear to be politically viable, particularly if rolled into a package.
A Government that knew what it was doing could sell their response to this report as a package and could do so without animating the far-right. At the heart of nearly all recommendations is an ‘Australia-first’ approach, meaning the policy change is rooted in advancing the economic interests of existing residents.
There are a number of recommendations which I think are underdeveloped and one or two which are borderline crazy. But more on those later because, in general, I was impressed by the work. As migration in Australia has economic, social, cultural and security ramifications, it is difficult to easily distil everything down into a neat set of proposals. Kudos, Productivity Commission.
Finally, the Commissioners almost plead for Government investment in migration policy. The dearth of evidence and research is hurting the ability to politicians and bureaucrats to make informed decisions. The ‘key point’ reads: “A stronger evidence base is required to inform future immigration policy. This requires further investment in data collection, integration and dissemination, and data analytics capacity.”
From a self-interested standpoint, I couldn’t agree more and I hope the Government implements each of the associated recommendations for promoting evidence as well as a general investment in migration research given the importance migration will continue to play in Australia.