The Australian Population Research Institute is an independent research organisation. It is devoted to understanding and communicating the nature of Australia’s demographic and economic situation and the policies and factors influencing this.
It is a not-for-profit Institute with no funding from corporate Australia. Its members are all participating researchers who contribute to the Institute’s work.
New research report, 13 March 2018
Bob Birrell, Australia’s skilled migration program: scarce skills not required
Immigration advocates have taken to justifying Australia’s record high permanent-entry skilled migration program on the grounds that it is delivering scarce skills crucial to Australia’s economic growth. This report shows that this is not the case. The selection system for the skill program does not take account of whether or not applicants have occupations that are in short supply in Australia. Since 2010 the selection criteria have been revised precisely to avoid taking this factor into account. One result is that the skill program is visaing large numbers of professional migrants whose occupations are in oversupply (including engineers and accountants). As a result most of these recent migrants cannot find professional level employment.
Research report, 25 October 2017
Katharine Betts and Bob Birrell, Australian voters’ views on immigration policy
TAPRI’s survey of 2067 Australian voters finds that 74 per cent say that Australia does not need more people and 54 per cent want a reduction in immigration. Over 65 per cent say population growth puts ‘a lot’ of pressure on housing, hospitals, roads and jobs. Among supporters of the major parties, Liberal voters are the most concerned about the effects of population growth and immigration.
See also the recent (8 December 2017) blog post on TAPRI’s results and those of the recent Scanlon report compared.
Research report, 13 March 2017
Bob Birrell, Australia’s skilled migration program: scarce skills not required
Immigration advocates have taken to justifying Australia’s record high permanent-entry skilled migration program on the grounds that it is delivering scarce skills crucial to Australia’s economic growth. This report shows that this is not the case. The selection system for the skill program does not take account of whether or not applicants have occupations that are in short supply in Australia. Since 2010 the selection criteria have been revised precisely to avoid taking this factor into account. One result is that the skill program is visaing large numbers of professional migrants whose occupations are in over supply (including engineers and accountants). As a result most of the these recent migrants cannot find professional level employment.
Research report, 9 August 2017
Bob Birrell, The Coalition’s 457 visa reset: tougher than you think
The Coalition government announced a reset of the 457 visa on April 19, 2017. It stated that the 457 visa would be replaced from March 2018 by a new Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa. The stated purpose was to give ‘Australian workers priority for Australian jobs’.
Initial media commentary judged the reset to be cosmetic. This was because it did not stop employers from continuing to sponsor migrants on short-term employment contracts.
This assessment was mistaken. The reset will significantly reduced the number of migrants eligible to apply for a TSS visa (relative to those now eligible for a 457 visa). Also, barely a third of the temporary foreign workers now eligible to be sponsored by their employer for a permanent-entry employer-sponsored visa will be eligible to request their employer to do this for them from March 2018.
Research-based policy document, 11 August 2017
Don Edgar, Patricia Edgar, Bob Birrell,* Katharine Betts,* Briony Dow and Chris Lovell, The New Middle Age: ways to thrive in the longevity economy
This paper calls for a new policy framework for ‘a middle-ageing Australia’. It offers ideas for policy reform across the areas of work, education, health and community-building regarding the growing middle-aged demographic. There are seven million Australians aged 50-75 years who are facing an extended life expectancy in a volatile and rapidly changing economic and political environment. The authors argue that Australia and its political leaders have an opportunity to take the lead in bringing the nation round to a more positive approach to longer life expectancy. Every political party should actively and consistently counter the currently pervasive negative view of ageing and instead recognise the growing middle-aged population as a valuable resource, both in economic and social terms.
* TAPRI members
15 December 2016
Mike Moynihan and Bob Birrell, GP Oversupply — ignoring the evidence
The Coalition government has presided over a surge in the number of GPs billing on Medicare, particularly in Australia’s metropolitan areas. The dominant source of these extra doctors is overseas-trained doctors (OTDs) who have completed their compulsory period of service in undersupplied locations.
Most subsequently move to the major cities and regional centres. These OTDs are the main source of the rapid growth in the per capita provision of GP services in the cities. This is partly because of the surge in their numbers and partly because they bill for far more services per year than their Australian-trained doctor (ATD) counterparts.
Meanwhile, in regional areas, the government is allowing employers to sponsor OTDs to replace those who have served their required time in areas defined as in shortage. Employers continue to sponsor more than 2,000 replacement OTDs on 457 visas each year (2,320 in 2015-16). This is more than the 1,529 training places for local graduates beginning their careers as GPs in 2015.
The result is a cycle leading to ever larger numbers of doctors relative to Australia’s patient load and ever higher GP Medicare costs.
This paper explores why the Australian government has allowed these outcomes to occur and why it has ignored the advice provided by its own Department of Health to reduce Australia’s reliance on overseas trained GPs.
Anna Patty, ‘Forecast oversupply of doctors to hit this year amid calls to halt imports’, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 January 2017
Bob Birrell, GP Oversupply and medical migration, 17 January 2017
Research report, 1 December 2016
Bob Birrell, Ernest Healy, and Bob Kinnaird, Immigration overflow: why it matters
This report highlights two issues. The first is the high and increasing numbers of IT professionals being granted 457 visas. They constitute by far the largest occupational group within the 457 program. Most are Indian nationals who are sponsored by Indian IT service companies. These companies have been successful in winning a major chunk of Australia’s IT consulting work on the basis of 457 visa holders. They have succeeded in part because they are paying their professionals much lower salaries than the market rate for IT professionals in Australia.
The second issue is that the Australian government has persisted with a record high annual permanent migration intake of around 205,000, despite the weakening of the Australian economy since the end of the resources boom in 2012. This permanent intake is the major source of Australia’s very high rate of population growth. It is having a disastrous impact on Sydney and Melbourne where just over half of the migrants settle.
Migration advocates argue that this urban impact is being offset by the influx of ‘highly trained’ skilled migrants in occupations which are in short supply in Australia. These claims are not true. Any relationship that there was between skills recruited under the points-tested visa subclasses and shortages in the labour market has eroded. This is in part because the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) that is supposed to remove occupations that are oversupplied in Australia from eligibility for the points-tested visa subclasses, no longer does so.
John Masanauskas, Thousands of foreign IT workers flood Australian markets as locals struggle to find work, The Herald Sun, 2 December 2016
Leith Van Onselen, Immigration overflow: the systematic rorting of Australia’s visa system, 2 December 2016, MacroBusiness, 2 December 2016
Anna Patty, Proportion of Indian IT workers on 457 visas on rock bottom pay triples, The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 December 2016, and The Age, 3 December 2016
Peter Dinham, Surge in foreign IT workers entering Australia, Aussies struggle to find jobs, ITWire.com, 4 December 2016
Nidhi Mehta, As Indian IT workers on 457 visas flood Australian Market, local IT graduates languish, bharattimes.com, 4 December 2016