Some light at the end of immigration tunnel

NOM forecast

Source: 2024 federal budget

I noted on Tuesday how the federal budget’s 395,000 forecast net overseas migration (NOM) for 2023-24 is likely to be wildly understated given that net permanent and long-term arrivals continued to track at record levels in the March quarter:

Quarterly net arrivals

This series has traditionally tracked very closely with the official quarterly NOM data, as illustrated in the following chart:

Australian immigration

Therefore, it seems likely that Australia’s NOM will end up clocking in closer to 500,000 in 2023-24; although much depends on what happens in the final quarter of this financial year.

The good news is that the forward-looking indicators are pointing to lower NOM for 2024-25.


Provisional visa data to April, released on Tuesday, shows that total visas (excluding visitors) have fallen significantly from peak, driven by falling net student visas:

Net visa arrivals

Annual student visa arrivals have topped out near 800,000, whereas departures are catching up:

Student visa arrivals and departures

The Albanese government’s tightening of student visas, explained on Tuesday, also appears to have tanked student visa grant rates:

Student visa grants

Source: Shane Oliver


The federal budget’s 260,000 NOM forecast for 2024-25, therefore, seems realistic, given the tightening of student visas announced by the government.

However, 260,000 NOM would still be around 40,000 higher than the 220,000 average NOM recorded in the 15 years of “Big Australia” migration recorded pre-pandemic.

Such a level of immigration would ensure that Australia’s population continues to grow at a rate that is faster than housing and infrastructure can be built.

About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.