KPMG migration report proposes visa concessions to boost regional Australia

Addressing shortages in the domestic workforce caused by closed international borders remains a top priority for businesses in 2021. In our submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Australia’s Skilled Migration Program, KPMG makes nine recommendations covering both the short and longer-term.

The submission points to the immediate labour needs of rural and regional Australia, where the agriculture, tourism and hospitality sectors are significantly affected by a lack of temporary visa holders.

Whilst there have been schemes to help facilitate entry of seasonal and Pacific work visa holders, KPMG believes policymakers should consider the temporary removal of labour market testing for employer sponsored streams, older age limits and lower English language requirements for workers applying for temporary visas or permanent residency in regional areas.

Several countries, and the International Air Transport Association, are developing ‘vaccine passports’ and the submission recommends the government conducts a review into how we could apply a health risk-based approach to international travel, based on vaccination status.

Given this could further disadvantage lower income nations, it is vital that this is combined with working with our international partners to increase and speed up vaccination distribution to those countries. KPMG modelling has shown just how important an efficient roll-out is for the world and Australian economy.

We propose improvements in processing times for the Global Talent Scheme as well as the business innovation and investment visa categories so that they are adaptable to market changes. The current lengthy processing times and program restrictions are a disincentive to investors who want to start an Australian business. This means a review of salary caps, age thresholds, turnover requirements and other criteria to make them more flexible and appropriate for newer industries such as Fintech, and Agtech and sectors like education. To attract a larger cohort of skilled migrants from Hong Kong, a visa class that provided additional concessions could also be considered.

Looking a few years ahead, the dearth of international student intake during the COVID-19 pandemic will significantly impact our economy, as these are the skilled workers of the near future. KPMG proposes that a range of measures are considered to make Australia more attractive to international students in a competitive environment, including making post-study work rights easier and last longer; and adding further permanent residency points to those post-study work rights.

Read the submission here



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