Australia looks to overhaul immigration system

Changes would include end to freeze on minimum wage for migrant workers

Australia looks to overhaul immigration system

Australia is proposing to overhaul its immigration system so that highly skilled workers can more quickly enter the country and become permanent residents.

The federal Labor government said the points test used to select skilled migrants will be modified to identify people with the correct skill sets the Australian economy needs going forward, according to Reuters.

"Our migration system... is broken. It is failing our businesses; it is failing migrants themselves. And most importantly, it is failing Australians. That cannot continue," Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil said in a speech at the National Press Club

The visa process for high-skilled professionals will be made quicker and easier, said the government, while steps would be taken to retain international students.

Temporary skilled visa holders, who had been denied even the opportunity to apply for permanent residency, will be able to do that by the end of this year, O'Neil said, according to Reuters.

Minimum wage changes

Australia is also looking to end a decade-old freeze on the minimum wage for skilled migrant workers, according to CTV News.

"What has emerged is a system where it is increasingly easy for migrants to come to Australia in search of a low-paid job, but increasingly difficult for migrants with the skills that we desperately need," said Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil. "One of the reasons there is so much exploitation in Australia is because we have allowed low-wage migration programs to operate in the shadows."

The Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold had been frozen by a previous government at 53,900 Australian dollars ($35,600) a year since 2013. A new minimum wage of AU$70,000 ($46,300) would apply from July 1, O'Neil said.

Last year, Australia’s Fair Work Commission (FWC) handed down an historic wage ruling.

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