17 days after the election, Australia finally has a new government. Current Prime Minister Julia Gillard has managed to retain power with a narrow, 1 vote, margin. So what are the implications for Australian migration? and more importantly what will it mean for you?
State Migration Plans
Well the first and most immediate implication will be that the skills shortage lists which form part of the State Migration Plans for each state, should be signed off by immigration minister Chris Evans and come into effect. This will have an immediate impact on anyone considering skilled migration. There are no major changes expected but keep checking here to stay informed of the changes as they are announced.
Whether Chris Evans continues as immigration minister remains to be seen. Mr Evans has been criticised within his own party for failing to contain the rival candidate, Tony Abbott from obscuring the real immigrations issues during the election campaign. Mr Abbott whipped up a media frenzy about border protection, asylum seekers and “stopping the boats”.
Regardless of whether Mr Evans retains his position or not, changes in immigration policy will be more to do with party politics than personality.
Longer Term Implications
Over the next 12-18 months the government will need tight rope balance to retain power, set policy, make good on promises and avoid infighting.
During the election campaign Ms Gillard came out strongly against her predecessor, Kevin Rudd’s vision of a ‘Big Australia’ saying she intended to cut net immigration from around 300,000 in 2009 to 145,000 by 2012.
Then the election happened and she had to start making deals. First with the Green party and then with the independent candidates who held the balance of power in the election. All three independents came from regional parts of Australia and understood the need for Skilled Workers to help improve the country’s infrastructure and economy.
Prime Minister Gillard has now revised her position and although an immigration cap is still expected to be implemented, she has indicated that she hopes to spread skilled migrants throughout Australia where they are needed most in order to achieve a “small and sustainable Australia”.
She will be ever conscious that one of the reasons Australia did relatively well compared to most other countries during the recent Worldwide economic downturn was because of the high levels of immigration.
The last time Australia had such a narrowly contested government was in 1940. The situation was very similar to what is facing the current government. Every policy and new piece of legislation will most likely be hotly debated. Pundits are predicting that this will hamstring the government and no real progress will be made.
History does not bear this out as the 1940-43 government has been described as, “the greatest in Australian history.” Already the independents have introduced procedures in the running of parliament that make it even more democratic.
I don’t expect many major changes to immigration policy within the next six months. When changes do come I expect they will be in favor of rural migration. The overall quota of migrants may not change but the distribution of migrants may be weighted to favor rural Australia.
Having said that if the last couple of months have shown anything it is that anything is possible in Australian politics. As alway I encourage you to get in touch sooner rather than later to find out what Australian visa you are eligible for and to begin the process as soon as possible.
Having an Australian visa in your passport does not mean you have to leave Ireland but it does mean you have options.