This picture taken on Aug 21, 2021 shows workers walking along George Street in Sydney. (DAVID GRAY / AFP)
CANBERRA – The Australian government has been urged to make sweeping changes to the country's migration system.
In a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into the migration system, leading think tank the Grattan Institute warned current visa requirements are making Australia less attractive to young talented workers.
It recommends abolishing programs that favor older migrants and urges the government to target the "best and brightest."
The report calls for all temporary migrants earning more than 85,000 Australian dollars (about $58,000) per year to be eligible to stay in Australia permanently, arguing it would help attract migrants with valuable skills
According to the report, only one quarter of permanent visas issued over the last decade assessed applicants' skills. Another third of visas went to the families of those migrants.
It calls for all temporary migrants earning more than 85,000 Australian dollars (about $58,000) per year to be eligible to stay in Australia permanently, arguing it would help attract migrants with valuable skills and boost government budgets by 125 billion Australian dollars ($85 billion) over the next three decades.
"Temporary skilled migration helps fill shortages, but also provides much of the applicant pool for permanent skilled migration, so should also target high-skilled migrants," the report said.
"A less prescriptive visa system that helps attract the world's best and brightest is the key to strengthening our sovereign capabilities in areas like cyber security."
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The institute warned strongly against expanding low-skilled temporary migration in a bid to fill worker shortages.
In September the federal government announced it has increased the number of permanent migration visas available annually from 160,000 to 195,000.
It expects migration to play a key role in its pledge to have a registered care nurse in every aged care center at all times by mid-2023.
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However, Grattan said that relying on migrants could undercut the wages of low-paid Australians and further increase exploitation.