Thousands more migrants could be entering Australia next year with the Albanese government preparing to let more foreign workers in to boost the economy.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic between 120,000 and 150,000 skilled migrants came to Australia each year.
However, during the extreme border shutdown more people left than arrived, sapping the economy of workers.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers has confirmed that increasing migration will be on the agenda at the Jobs and Skills summit with businesses and unions in September.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry wants skilled migration levels to increase to 200,000 a year, up from the Coalition’s cap of 160,000.
Thousands more migrants could be entering Australia next year with the Albanese government preparing to let more foreign workers in to boost the economy
Last month Dr Chalmers said that target sounded reasonable because labour shortages were a ‘real handbrake’ on the economy.
‘I think as we emerge from that period of Covid where the migration tap was largely turned off, that should be an opportunity to think about the best mix of migration as the program gathers speed again,’ Dr Chalmers said.
‘That’s something we’re talking to business about.’
In an ABC Radio interview on Thursday, Dr Chalmers again confirmed that migration will be a key part of Australia’s economic recovery – alongside training local workers.
‘Skills and education, they’ll be a key focus at the summit. And there’s a role for migration to play too but not as a substitute for those other two things,’ he said.
‘And so we need to move on all fronts simultaneously and that’s why the summit has made those sorts of issues the key priorities and the key focus.’
Before the Covid-19 pandemic between 120,000 and 150,000 skilled migrants came to Australia each year
Changes to the migration rules are expected to be announced in the October 25 Budget.
The Australian Workers Union is demanding that businesses are forced to train one local worker for every migrant they hire.
Dr Chalmers also said it was Labor’s intention to keep the third stage of tax cuts which were passed in 2019 after the country’s biggest trade union group pushed him to scrap them.
The stage three tax cuts are controversial because, unlike the first two stages which are already in place, they will benefit the wealthiest Australians the most.
From July 2024 a politician on $211,250 will get a tax cut of $9,075 while a registered nurse on $72,235 will get a tax cut of $681, a bus driver will get $461 and a chef will get $321.
Ahead of September’s summit, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) had released a list of economic demands including rent controls, higher taxes on company profits, and scrapping the stage three income tax cuts.
Aussies earning over $45,000 will have their taxes slashed in 2024 after Treasurer Jim Chalmers (pictured) slapped down union demands to cancel upcoming cuts
Chefs are set to save $321 a year when the stage three tax cuts come into play in 2024
But Dr Chalmers shot down the union plan in his ABC radio interview on Thursday.
‘We intend to leave them in place,’ he said of the cuts.
Dr Chalmers said the only tax change Labor is contemplating is a crackdown on corporate tax avoidance.
‘We think that there are steps that can be taken now in the tax system particularly in relation to multinational tax avoidance,’ he said.
‘That where our priorities should be.’
Dr Chalmers said the ACTU’s suggestions do not reflect government policy but accepted their right to submit ideas.
‘The whole point of having a summit like this is to bring people together to see if there can be common ground found,’ he told ABC Radio National on Thursday.
‘It would be pretty strange if we said, ”come along to a summit and only bring along ideas which have been pre-approved by the government”.
‘That’s not in the spirit of the summit, not the spirit of the way the government operates.’
This table by the Australia Institute shows how much Australians can expect to save from stage three tax cuts in 2024
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group