Australia: Few Significant Immigration Policy Changes Expected Following Coalition Government’s Election Win

At a Glance

  • This week, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced his ministerial team, following the Coalition Government’s election victory on May 18.
  • There are no significant changes to the government’s immigration leadership, with Peter Dutton retained as the Minister for Home Affairs and David Coleman as Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs. 

The situation

On May 26, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced his ministerial team, following his Coalition Government’s unexpected election victory on May 18. There are no significant changes in the government’s immigration leadership, with Peter Dutton remaining as the Minister for Home Affairs and David Coleman continuing as the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, though with expanded responsibility over Migrant Services. 

Looking ahead

  • Fragomen anticipates the following will be the new government’s high-level immigration priorities over the near future:   
  • Focus on regional Australia. In March, the government announced plans to reduce the overall migration ceiling by 15%, while encouraging foreign nationals to settle in regional areas through the introduction of two new regional skilled visa categories. Fragomen also expects a continuation on the use of Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMAs) to address skills shortages in regional Australia. 
  • Facilitating innovation. Fragomen expects immigration initiatives will continue to be part of the government’s “Innovation Agenda.”  Programs such as the pilot Global Talent Scheme, further expanded through the Global Talent Initiative, are intended to provide new pathways for highly-skilled migrants and make Australia more competitive for top talent globally.
  • Australian jobs first. Fragomen does not expect significant changes to existing policies on labor market testing requirements. Minor policy adjustments are a possibility, however, given that the government will continue to work to ensure that temporary skilled visa programs are used only where no suitable Australian worker is available. A recent Senate Committee report recommended that Australia not enter into further free trade agreements that would provide exemptions from labor market testing requirements, but the government has not yet responded to this recommendation. 
  • Infrastructure agenda. During its election campaign, the Coalition Government committed to invest AUD 100 billion into transport infrastructure. Such an ambitious agenda will likely increase pressure on the construction and engineering sectors, which already face notable skills shortages. An increased demand for foreign labor would likely present challenges for a government seeking to slow population growth of the cities and encouraging migrants to settle in regional Australia.
  • Reform and future visa service delivery. The Prime Minister has indicated that the government will require all government departments to find savings and reduce budgets. Within the Department of Home Affairs, this would suggest that the digitalization and automation of visa processing may become a higher priority.

Fragomen will continue to engage with the Coalition Government on immigration policy and delivery and seek to influence policy direction to support our clients’ needs.  Further analysis will be provided as the government settles in for its third term.

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