State Parliament’s economic and finance committee held its first hearing into the economic contribution of migration to South Australia this morning.
Department of Tourism, Trade and Investment (DTTI) principal policy officer Bevan Fletcher told the committee skilled migrants to South Australia face discrimination in the form of hidden job vacancies.
He said South Australian employers more frequently select new employees through personal networks rather than through advertising, compared to employers in the eastern states.
“South Australia, unfortunately, has a lot (fewer) of its occupations advertised publicly, than what occurs in the eastern states, in the bigger markets,” said Fletcher.
“That effectively blocks out people who are in the market and don’t have those networks.”
Fletcher added that skilled migrants were also disadvantaged because when employers do advertise vacancies, they often only accept candidates who are Australian citizens or permanent migrants.
“The majority of our skilled migrants coming through (are) provisional visa holders,” he said.
Meanwhile, the importance of gaining a job was highlighted today when proposed laws to force migrants to wait up to four years before accessing a raft of welfare benefits passed the first stage in the federal parliament.
The progress comes after Labor – having originally opposed the lengthy waiting period – agreed with the government on a range of amendments, out of concern negotiations would otherwise be left to the likes of One Nation.
“We took the view it was better to negotiate with the government ourselves, try and get an arrangement which we could live with,” Labor shadow treasurer Chris Bowen told reporters in Canberra this morning.
Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he wanted the permanent migration cap reduced by up to 30,000, so that Australia would accept 160,000 migrants a year, down from 190,000.
He argued this was desirable because of migrants’ impact on public services.
“The roads are clogged, the buses and trains are full,” he told an audience in Sydney last Tuesday.
“The schools are taking no more enrolments.
“I hear what you are saying. I hear you loud and clear.”
But DTTI chief executive Mike Hnyda told this morning’s committee hearing that migrants give more back to public coffers than they receive through welfare benefits.
“Many studies have shown that the taxation receipt (from) migrants outweighs the receipt of any Commonwealth social services expenditure (to migrants),” he said.
“It (migration) has a small positive impact on GDP per capita.
“That’s particularly the case this century, as the migration program has shifted to skilled migration, as opposed to family reunification.”
He cautioned, though, that most of the research concerning the economic impact of migrants had not considered the impact migrants may have on transport infrastructure.
He added that skilled migration now makes up 70 per cent of Australia’s intake and that “skilled migrants bring with them high education levels, skills, a very high (workforce) participation rate, given both their age profile and capacity to achieve improved outcomes for themselves and their families”.
– with AAP
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