OF the seven continents—Africa, Australia, Europe, North and South America—, Australia is the smallest (at 7,692 million square kilometers) but almost as big as the United States of America, and almost 20 percent of this continent is classified as desert.
So why is immigration the hottest topic?
Precisely because what environmentalists against. immigration are saying: Australia is losing its green to migrants. With the Barrier Reef rapidly drying because of climate change, immigrants are bearing the blame. Permanent residents are issued the reddish-brown visas as evidence of their right to settle in the continent – get a job, acquire assets, including renting or buying a house.
Migrants, both young and adult, may be contributing to the pension funds of retirees and an aging, graying society, but green beats the red and gray in the color spectrum of Australian priorities.
Australia’s Productivity Commission explained that “increasing the proportion of people in the workforce through immigration, a younger generation of migrants will provide the taxes that pays off benefits for the aged (65 and above) – projected to remain at 25 percent of Australia’s population.
This is the reason why the age limit for skilled migrants to get points for the age criterion has been set at 44. After that, or those aged 45 to 50 do not get any points. An older skilled migrant applicant, therefore, must leverage the other factors to get to the minimum 60 points needed to qualify for skilled independent or the state/territory-nominated classification.
The criteria (including age) to qualify for skilled migration, all of which are assessed at the time the applicant is invited to apply, are shown in the table.
After a large increase in numbers during the mining boom (2012 – 2013), the visa allocation for migrants had been pegged to its current limit of 190,000 yearly, representing 67.8 percent of the total. The 190,000 target was not reached: the government’s statistics show that only 189,770 permanent resident places were issued.
The 190,000 target for skilled migrants and their families is now at the forefront of the country’s debate, reflecting the focus on immigration in the United State and the United Kingdom.
Stress on house prices and infrastructure
“High rates of immigration put upward pressure on land and housing prices in Australia’s largest cities,” a 2016 Productivity Commission report into the migration intake said, compounded by poor urban planning and zoning laws.
While there have been concerted efforts to wean migrants away from the main cities, by excluding the post code of Sydney and Melbourne as preferred areas for migrants, the 190,000 target is regarded as beneficial to property owners but detrimental to the rest by “reducing the living standards for those entering the property market.”-
To support the burgeoning population former secretary of the Treasury Ken Henry told the Committee for Economic Development of Australia in February that the state and territory governments “could be calling tenders for the design of a bran new city for two million people every five years.”
Green vs red and gray
While young skilled migrants fund the pension and benefits for Australia’s elderly, they compete for living space, including green spaces, the “green grid” considered a crucial part of a livable city, have been identified as under threat from the booming population. This concern is acutely felt in Sydney, New South Wales, where another 2.1 million people will be added over the next two decades.
Mehreen Faruqi, the Greens NSW environment spokeswoman, expressed concern that “the green spaces, often islands of biodiversity, are gradually reduced if not eliminated. The constant chipping away of parks, trees and wetlands is having a devastating impact on native flora and fauna, even the extinction of certain species such as the green and golden bell frog.”
Changes in 2016-17 skilled occupations list
Recent changes in the criteria for selecting skilled migrants are designed to slow down the number of skilled migrants invited to apply for residency while distributing them to states and territories in need of skilled workers
In addition, the type and number of occupations eligible for migration as indicated in the skilled occupations list (SOL) had been revised. For applicants amenable to live in areas outside of the metropolitan centers, there is the consolidated skilled occupations list (CSOL).
On July 1, 2016, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) introduced a number of changes to the occupations. For those applying after July 1, 2016 for an independent (Subclass 190) or family-sponsored points tested visa or a temporary graduate (subclass 485) – graduate work stream visa, the applicant must make sure his or her occupation is listed on the new SOL.
Finally, while nine occupations have been removed, only two new occupations were added to the SOL (from July 2016): Added were orthotist or prosthetist and audiologist. The occupations removed were: mining engineer (excluding petroleum), petroleum engineer, metallurgist, environmental health officer, occupational health and safety adviser, dental hygienist, dental prosthetist, dental technician, and dental therapist.