Friday, 02 September 2022

Jobs and Skills Summit - The role of skilled migration in resolving the current skills and labour shortage crisis

​​It’s wonderful to be with you.

We are so lucky to share a country with the oldest living culture in the world, one that’s been thriving for 60,000 years.

That history is a constant reminder that every challenge can be overcome.

To have the blessing of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people to have this discussion today is a great gift.

Migration has been one of the most discussed topics leading up to the summit.

We have an exciting, meaty 95 minutes of discussion ahead, with real outcomes on the table.

How are we going to address this complex topic? 

First, we will have a panel with some incredible experts to speak about some urgent reforms that are necessary to address the skills crisis.

Then, we’re going to open up to a broader discussion.

The saying goes, never waste a crisis.

Well COVID is presenting us, on a platter, a chance to reform our immigration system that we will never get back again.

I want us to take that chance.

Today, we want to hear from you about what a migration system to serve Australia’s future would look like.

Let me provide some brief context on how we are thinking about the current situation.

  1. This is very real and it is affecting the lives of Australians.
  • Teachers at the end of their tether
  • Nurses who cannot work the double and triple shifts they have been pulling for the last two years
  • Funerals being delayed
  • Flights being cancelled because there aren’t enough ground staff
  • Fruit is rotting on trees in our regions because there’s no one to pick it
  1. Our focus is always Australian jobs first, and that’s why so much of the summit has focused on training, and on the participation of women and other marginalised groups
  1. But the impact of COVID has been so severe that even if we exhaust every other possibility, we will still be many thousands of workers short, at least in the short term

Over the last few weeks, the size of the migration program has been a huge focus. We have run more than 100 roundtables, and spoken to so many stakeholders in this room.

There is nothing in this room without universal support, but an area where almost everyone agrees, is that we need to lift the permanent migration numbers for this year.

I want emphasise that one of Labor’s priorities is to move away from the focus on short-term migrants, toward permanency, citizenship and nation building.

The permanent skilled migration rate for 2022/23 had been set at 160,000 places.

The Government will increase that number for 2022/23 to 195,000.

Based on projections, this could mean thousands more nurses settling in the country this year, thousands more engineers.

I note David Littleproud is here – David, this will mean 34,000 places in the regions for this year, 9,000 more than had been previously be announced.

To our state and territory premiers – we are building in a big lift under the state and territory sponsored visas – from 11,000 last year to 31,000.

We’ve made that decision based on the discussions we have had and the urging of the people in this room. That is your voice being reflected.

And now I want to hand to Minister Andrew Giles to say a few words before we go to our panel.