Dignity of Work

Migration Review A Missed Opportunity

Written by
27 April 2023

“The Federal Government has missed an opportunity to support getting more Australians into work and looks set to continue the short-sighted and lazy approach of plugging Australia’s worker shortage simply with more migration,” said Daniel Wild, Deputy Executive Director of the Institute of Public Affairs.

According to reports, the migration review led by Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil fails to address fundamental issues driving the unprecedented worker shortage, which are the barriers facing Australian pensioners, veterans, and students from entering the workforce.

“Any proper, comprehensive review of migration should have considered the impact tax and red tape barriers have on stopping Australian pensioners, veterans, and students from re-entering the workforce, and the contribution they can make to alleviating the worker shortage,” said Mr Wild.

Recent data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed there are over 438,000 job vacancies across the nation, which is almost double the pre-Covid level. The data also showed one-quarter of businesses cannot find the workers they need.

“Currently, only three per cent of Australian pensioners are in work, compared with 25 per cent in New Zealand, because of unfair penalties which see Australian pensioners lose 50 cents in the dollar once they earn just $226 per week,” said Mr Wild.

“Australian pensioners, veterans, and students should be able to work as they choose without losing their pension or welfare payments, while paying tax on earned income like all other Australians,” said Mr Wild.

A recent survey from National Seniors Australia found that approximately 20 per cent of pensioners would work if it were not for severe financial disincentives. This equates to approximately 515,000 pensioners, which is more than the current number of job vacancies.

“The Federal Government’s approach of preferencing migration over Australian pensioners, veterans, and students who wish to work strikes at the very heart of the notion of the Australian fair go,” said Mr Wild.

“Moreover, an unsustainable jump in migration will put further pressure on critical economic and social infrastructure, such as schools, roads, and hospitals, and will only further add to the acute and immediate shortage of housing.”

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Daniel Wild

Daniel Wild is the Deputy Executive Director at the Institute of Public Affairs

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