Albanese flags immigration system overhaul

John Kidman |

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has flagged changes to Australia’s immigration numbers.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has flagged changes to Australia’s immigration numbers.

Immigration will be scaled back to what are considered sustainable levels hand-in-hand with a crackdown on abuses of Australia’s intake of overseas students.

The impending overhaul follows a once-in-a-generation review which determined the nation’s immigration system was “badly broken” and in need of a 10-year rebuild, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Saturday.

“What we know, is that we need to have a migration system that enables Australia to get the skills that we need but make sure the system is working in the interests of all Australians,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“Well, we are determined to fix this.”

Mr Albanese said there was always going to be a jump in new arrivals following COVID-19 although current projections were lower than those prior to Australia shutting its borders during the pandemic.

Treasury forecasts also show the intake is expected to decline substantially over the coming financial year.

However the review, conducted by former Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet head Martin Parkinson, had found concerning abuses of Australia’s acceptance of international students, the prime minister said.

“People are coming here, enrolling in courses that don’t really add substantially to either their skills base or to the national interest,” he said.

“So, it’s not in the interests of our neighbours, nor is it in the interests of Australia, that there not be a crackdown on this.

“We’re determined to do that.”

While the government already has a blueprint for increased housing and a $120 billion infrastructure rollout, the full details of the immigration overhaul, including tougher rules for temporary visa holders, are expected to be unveiled on Monday by Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil.

The preliminary announcement comes as an Eritrean-born man was expected on Saturday to appear in court as the sixth former immigration detainee arrested for allegedly failing to comply with a curfew.

Immigration Detention
Another person released from detention has been arrested for failing to comply with conditions. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

The AFP arrested and charged the 36-year-old on Friday night after he was located in inner Melbourne.

It will be alleged the man breached the conditions of his commonwealth visa by failing to observe his residential curfew obligations, with the offence attracting a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $93,900 fine.

The government has been scrambling to respond to a High Court’s decision, which overturned 20 years of legal precedent to rule indefinite custody of detainees unlawful when there was no prospect of resettlement.

Opposition pressure has escalated for it to apologise to Australians over the affair.

However, Mr Albanese said Labor had a legal obligation to respond to the court’s decision and had no interest in risking the consequences of pre-empting such processes.

He said the government had received very clear and explicit advice on the issue but despite making it available to the opposition, it had been ignored.

A Treasury estimate earlier this year of Australia’s net immigration intake for 2022/23 at a tick more than 400,000 has been well exceeded.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the nation grew 2.2 per cent to 26.5 million people in the 12 months to March 31, or roughly the period following the closure of international borders.

Net overseas migration accounted for 81 per cent of this growth and added 454,400 people.

AAP