Last month I warned that the Morrison Government’s new Agricultural Visa would usher an “immigration scab grab”, with other sectors of the Australian economy likely to step up and demand similar access to industry-specific visas under the guise of ‘skills shortages’:
You could easily imagine a situation where the Morrison Government introduces a new ‘Serving Australia’ hospitality visa, a new ‘Building Australia’ construction and engineering visa, a new ‘Caring Australia’ health and aged care visa, or any other industry manifestation.
After all, the parliamentary migration committee this month recommended a pathway to permanent residency for all migrant workers who come to Australia on temporary skill visas.
So brace yourself for a flood of industry migration deals. The great immigration scab grab has begun.
Right on cue, Inland Rail interim CEO Rebecca Pickering claims that the rail construction sector is facing a shortage of 150,000 workers at a time when expenditure on rail projects is already 50% above 2019 levels and tipped to be 200% above by 2023.
Accordingly, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia CEO Adrian Dwyer has urged the federal government to introduce a specific visa for the infrastructure sector:
“It’s a huge sort of mountain that … the industry’s got to climb to cater for that, and certainly what that seems to translate to is quite a substantial skills gap,” Ms Pickering said…
IPA chief executive Adrian Dwyer said the skills challenge was intensifying as a result of the closure of international borders and an ageing workforce. “Unless these skills shortages are addressed, we’ll see substantial delays in project delivery, with taxpayers footing the bill through higher project costs”…
He called for the Morrison government to use the skilled migration program to help bridge the skills gap, specifically by implementing a visa for the infrastructure sector.
There’s a strong element of the tail wagging the dog here. The primary reason why Australia has embarked upon such a large infrastructure build is to cater for its ballooning population caused by mass immigration:
The Intergenerational Report projects that Australia’s population will swell by a whopping 13.1 million people (~50%) over the next 40 years to 38.8 million people – equivalent to adding another Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Australia’s existing population. And this will be driven by annual net overseas migration of 235,000.
The obvious question is: what’s the point of building all of this infrastructure if it will simply be ‘filled-up’ with migrants? How does this benefit existing Australian residents, especially given these projects will be funded via escalating user charges such as tolls?
Ultimately, existing residents will be charged more to use infrastructure that they previously used for free, with private companies like Transurban profiteering.