Prof. Peter McDonald is a Demography Expert with the University of Melbourne. Prof. McDonald believes that Australia should retain its annual PR quota at 190,000.
In March 2019, the Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, announced a reduction in the immigration intake. The annual immigration intake was slashed by 30,000 to 160,000. The move was intended to please voters who were worried about congestion and job security.
Addressing the Infrastructure Summit of the Australian Financial Review, Prof. McDonald said that Australia would not have been what it is today without Sydney and Melbourne. He also said that the PR quota should have been kept at 190,000.
The Prof. also said that Australia is looking at a probable labour crunch. 2 million Baby Boomers will retire pretty soon in Australia and there are not enough youngsters to replace them. The younger generation is not growing as expected. Also, younger Australians tend to study longer which further intensifies the labour crunch.
Immigration is the only solution to counter the potential labour crunch, said the Prof. Hence, he is a firm believer that Australia should have retained its PR quota of 190,000, as per the AFR.
Slashing immigration numbers will not help decongest Sydney and Melbourne, said the Prof. He said that probably 10,000 of the slashed immigration numbers would have settled in these cities. However, the labour demand in these two cities is much higher than in other cities in Australia and will continue to remain so. To address their labour needs, Sydney and Melbourne will now need to look at other cities. As per the Prof., the first city that they will target will be Adelaide.
A majority of the retiring Baby Boomers were employed in low-skilled jobs. Immigrants do not fill up low-skilled positions. Thus, reduction in immigration numbers will also cause a scarcity of low-skilled workers.
The end of the mining boom transformed Australia drastically, as per the Prof. Workers, who were earlier moving to Perth and Brisbane, started choosing Sydney and Melbourne. However, these two cities will shape the future of Australia and are important in attracting foreign workers.
Romilly Madew, Chief Exec. Infrastructure Australia believes that infrastructure projects should be planned carefully. These projects should keep in mind the population growth so that the cities remain livable.
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