One of Australia’s leading business groups has urged the Government to list the barriers to welcome back returning Australians, working visa holders, students, tourists and all visitors as soon as practicable.
This follows Australia’s announcement to resume international travel for citizens, permanent residents and their families who will be able to fly in and out of Sydney without quarantine from 1 November.
But Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox has sounded the alarm on worker shortages, with the coronavirus pandemic pushing the migration rate to its lowest in more than a century. Willox said that the Delta variant and slow start to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout pushed labour issues aside, but they are coming back with a vengeance.
“Unless they are addressed quickly and effectively they will hold back the recovery that is now underway.”, he warned.
Ai Group also asked the annual migration target to be restored to 190,000 from the reduced cap of 160,000 applied before the pandemic.
“Prior to the pandemic the Federal Government replaced the annual migration target of 190,000 with a ceiling of 160,000. This is no longer right for the times and, at the very least the permanent migration planning level should be restored to the previous target of 190,000 places per year. There is a strong case for considerably more than this while we catch up on recent losses.”
He said all states should welcome back working visa holders, students, tourists and all other visitors as soon as possible.
He urged the Federal Government to remove the brakes it has applied to the NSW international border reopening plan. He said that by retaining visa entry caps on categories other than returning Australians the Federal Government is putting an unnecessary barrier in place.
“If there was open entry for all double vaccinated and tested travellers, the airlines would respond with greater capacity to the benefit of all.”, he said.
“The international border situation is also needlessly complicated for returning travellers. From November there will be limitless outbound travel from any state but initially only NSW will accept incoming fully-vaccinated visitors without quarantine on return. This is a huge disincentive to overseas travel, with someone leaving Brisbane or Perth for example, only able to return to Sydney or else they would be forced into quarantine.”