EAmong the measures announced are stricter English language proficiency requirements, designed to make it more difficult for foreign students and people with low qualifications to enter the country.
About half a million temporary migrants entered Australia last year, a substantial increase after years of border closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Australian government has estimated that these reforms, as well as short-term trends, will allow it to reduce the number of immigrants by half by 2024-2025.
“We will ensure that we regain control of these numbers,” said Interior Minister Clare O’Neil, describing parts of a strategy lasting around 100 pages, consulted by the news agency France-Presse (AFP).
Despite the unemployment rate being at levels close to historic lows (3.7% in October), public opinion in Australia is unhappy with the rise in prices, including in the property market.
Rents in some areas of Sydney and Melbourne increased by around 25% last year, something that has been linked to the return of immigrants, notably by the independent think tank Instituto Grattan, which this month called for reform of the immigration regime.
Clare O’Neil has stressed that immigration is essential to Australia’s prosperity, describing foreign workers as those who have made the country great.
Still, the minister acknowledged the growing public discontent and promised to “build a better planned system around essential issues such as housing”.
On Sunday, the Australian Government announced that it would impose a dramatic increase in taxes charged to foreigners who invest in buying houses in the country and leave them empty.
The Labor executive is keeping an eye on the conservative opposition’s numbers in polls ahead of elections scheduled for 2025, Rachel Stevens, an expert on the history of immigration at the Australian Catholic University, told AFP.
“It’s really dangerous and quite reckless to put everything on the shoulders of immigrants,” he added.
Conservative opposition leader Peter Dutton accused the government of having a “big immigration agenda”.
“Our cities are crowded, the roads are congested, the infrastructure cannot keep up,” he said at the beginning of the month, suggesting a reduction in the number of immigrants.
Also today, New Zealand’s new Prime Minister, Christopher Luxon, announced changes to the country’s immigration strategy, describing the current number of immigrant arrivals as “unsustainable.”
According to official data, between September 2022 and October this year, 118,800 immigrants arrived in the country, which has 5.3 million inhabitants.
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