Treasurer Jim Chalmers says Labor could ease migration caps to bring more foreign workers into Australia, part of plans to help fill “acute” labour shortages across the economy. Highlighting training and childcare spending to boost women’s workforce participation, Dr Chalmers also left open the possibility of bringing in more overseas workers to fill immediate vacancies, joining Skills Minister Brendan O’Connor and Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil in flagging such a move.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers said women’s’ workforce participation, training and migration were all part of the solution. Alex Ellinghausen There were 480,100 job vacancies in Australia in May, an increase of 13.8 per cent from February. Nearly 440,000 were in the private sector, which has been hit hard by COVID-19 border closures and serious bottlenecks in visa processing . “We need to come at those challenges in a number of ways simultaneously,”
Dr Chalmers said on Tuesday, flagging an imminent announcement on Labor’s planned national jobs summit. “We want to bring people together to recognise and understand and to come up with a plan for how we approach this challenge from a number of different angles. Advertisement “Migration is part of the story when we think about these labour and skills shortages. Training is a big part of the story, childcare reform, so we can get more people back to work, if they want to work more or work more hours.”
He flagged consideration of calls for older Australians to be allowed to earn more before their pensions payments are reduced. “The labour shortages and skill shortages in our economy are so acute and having such consequences for our supply chains, that we are prepared to look right across the board at solutions and migration is part of that.” Mr O’Connor told The Australian this week a combination of skills investment and the restoration of the skilled migration stream were badly needed.
Immigration Minister Andrew Giles has flagged a major repair job to fix , which he says can make Australia a more internationally competitive destination for skilled workers. The median short-term temporary skilled visa takes 83 days to finalise, up from 53 days in March. Advertisement One-quarter of applications are taking at least one year to process, while the slowest 10 per cent of temporary skilled visas are taking 15 months, according to data from Home Affairs. Business has called for faster turnaround time for applicants, with some put off by 15-month processing periods for skilled worker applications.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told premiers meeting for national cabinet last month the government had reassigned public servants to help clear the backlog in visa processing . Shadow treasurer Angus Taylor said there was no doubt Australia needed more skilled workers. Liberal leader Peter Dutton has called for changes to pension rules to encourage more older Australians into more work. “It’s very, very important that we get more people into work,” Mr Taylor said. “We do need to make sure we have balanced immigration, sensible, balanced immigration, that prioritises Australians first but recognises that we need to fill gaps with immigrants.” reports from the federal press gallery at Parliament House.