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Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Page: 2209

Permanent Migration Program

(Question No. 412)

Senator Cash asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, upon notice, on 1 March 2011:

(1) What formula or formulas are used to calculate: (a) the total annual level of permanent migration targeted over the past 5 years (2006 to 2011); and b) the total annual level of skilled and family permanent migration over the same period.

(2) Has the formula, or its parameters, changed between 2006 and 2011; if so: (a) in what way; and (b) what have been the impacts on the targeted level of migration.

(3) What are the objectives which drive the level of permanent migration in Australia.

(4) What work has been undertaken to assess whether the targeted levels of permanent migration have met these objectives.

Senator Carr: The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) (a) and (b) The Permanent Migration Program is planned and managed on an annual basis through the setting of the annual permanent skill and family intake levels.

In determining the size and composition of the Migration Program, a range of factors are considered, including:

- immediate and forecast long-term social, demographic and economic trends;

- expected demand for skilled labour in key occupations and industries over the medium to long term;

- estimated demand for Migration Program places within categories that are uncapped under existing legislation, in particular the Partner and Child categories;

- specific social, economic and labour market advice and analysis from other Australian Government agencies including Skills Australia, as well as feedback from key industry and business bodies, community groups and state and territory governments through the conduct of annual migration program consultation meetings and receipt of written submissions;

- research and analysis of the current and projected labour demand in Australia;

- an identified need to address critical immediate and emerging longer term labour force skill shortages, that are unable to be met by the domestic labour market or training schemes or through temporary migration programs; and

- the economic and social contribution of the permanent migration program and any adjustment costs and wider considerations which need be balanced against the above considerations.

Annual permanent migration planning levels are indicative and are revised and reviewed regularly by the Government to ensure that they are meeting their aim. The proportion of visa grants in Skill Stream categories can be readjusted in response to changes in economic circumstances.

(2) (a) and (b) The method of determining the size and composition of the annual Migration Program has not changed over the last five years. However, since 2010 the Department analysed temporary migration trends alongside permanent migration program trends. This information has been considered alongside the migration program to ensure that immigration levels are optimal in terms of their economic contribution, and balanced against adjustment costs which flow from resultant population growth.

(3) The Migration Program has the objective of facilitating the entry of migrants who can contribute to economic growth by enhancing the size, skill level and productivity of the Australian labour force; as well as the reunion of immediate family members such as partners and children, and other family members within the extent that the social gain is balanced against the fiscal cost.

(4) The Department consults industry, businesses and community groups on the effectiveness of the Migration Program to meet their critical skill and social needs. Input from these consultations is considered as part of future Migration Program planning. Regular internal and external evaluations and reviews of migration programs and policies are also undertaken to ensure these are meeting their objectives. For example the Independent category of the Skill Stream was reviewed in 2010, and the Business Skills and Employer Sponsored Category is currently under review, as is the Student Visa program which is a key feeder category for the permanent program.

The Department regularly commissions external research on current and emerging issues associated with immigration, population, multiculturalism and settlement and undertakes evaluations to assess the effectiveness and acceptability of migration priorities, legislation and policy settings.

Longitudinal and continuous surveys of Australia's migrants are conducted to evaluate the labour market and settlement outcomes of migrants. The Department also collects and analyses a range of immigration related statistics to monitor the progress of our programs.

Key research and evaluation reports, findings from surveys on Australia's skilled and family migrants and immigration related statistical publications are available on the Department's website on: