Despite recent debate and calls to cut Australia's annual migrant intake, the government confirms the migration program ceiling remains unchanged for 2018-19.
Despite much recent media coverage of the discussions and political statements around Australia’s burgeoning population, Australia’s migration program ceiling has not been reduced.
The Department of Home Affairs has confirmed to SBS Hindi that the migration program ceiling of 190,000 remains unchanged for 2018-19.
“The Migration Program is set annually through the Australian Government’s Budget process.
“In 2017-18, the Program was set at a ceiling of 190,000. This number remains unchanged for 2018-19,” a spokesperson from the Department of Home Affairs told SBS Hindi.
Australia’s immigration intake came into the spotlight in February after former Prime Minister Tony Abbott called for a significant cut in nation's migrant intake.
Mr Abbott said he wanted the intake to be reduced to 110,000 in a bid to lower the cost of living and reduce crime rates.
The Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton rejected Mr Abbott’s call to cut Australia’s migrant intake, but it later emerged Mr Dutton had asked his cabinet colleagues to consider cutting the annual intake of permanent migrants from 190,000 to 170,000; however the proposal was knocked back by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison.
While it is now confirmed the ceiling will remain at 190,000 in 2018-19 like the current fiscal year, the government is under no obligation to fill the quota.
Annual immigration reports show Australia has accepted almost exactly 190,000 permanent migrants every year since 2011.
Nearly every year the cap is met, but in the most recent 2016-17 financial year, the intake dipped to 183,000.
Mr Dutton said the final statistics for the 2017-18 year would be available in coming months and suggested the number would again be “less than 190,000”.
Research conducted by the federal government found that skilled migrants are adding to Australia's wealth and aren't living on welfare or robbing local workers of jobs.
The joint research entitled ‘Shaping A Nation: Population growth and immigration over time’ by Treasury and the Department of Home Affairs was released in April 2018, It cited International Monetary Fund estimates showing Australia's migration program will add up to one percent to annual average GDP growth from 2020 to 2050, because it limits the economic impact of the ageing population.
The report stated, “Migrants have contributed to both Australia’s total GDP and GDP per person.”
“Migrants, particularly skill stream migrants who account for around 70% of Australia’s migrant intake, contribute to GDP per person in a number of ways.
“They offset Australia’s ageing population, improve labour force participation and productivity, and help businesses to source skills that are difficult to develop at short notice,” it said.
India is Australia's biggest source of skilled and family migrants, according to data from the federal government.
Over 20% of migrants in 2016-17 came from India; 38,854 visas were granted to Indians in 2016-17 making it the biggest pool of skilled migrants and those granted family visas.
Indian-born residents currently account for around 3% to 4% of the population in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne, and around 2% in Brisbane and Adelaide.
Indian-born taxpayers have generated billions of dollars for the Australian economy, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
In October 2016, the ABS revealed that out of $53.4 billion income generated by migrant taxpayers, Indian-born taxpayers generated a $7.9 billion in the year 2011-12.
Most of this income ($49 billion, or 91%) was earned as an employee, with the majority reported as skilled migrants.