On Friday 17 June, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese hosted his first national cabinet meeting. During the meeting, leaders from several Australian states and territories highlighted the issues that impact immigration.
Enormous visa backlogs
The Australian immigration programme is still suffering from the effects of the covid-19 pandemic. This has resulted in huge backlogs in the processing and issuing of visas. The Department of Home Affairs is therefore under extreme pressure. Prime Minister Albanese mentioned that several candidates have to wait 12 to 18 months before a visa is granted. In reality, it appears that several candidates have been waiting for more than two years before they are granted a visa. With distressing situations as a result.
The impact on the economy
Partly because of the large backlog at the Department of Home Affairs, the country is facing serious shortages of skilled labour. Many companies are struggling now that they cannot find suitable candidates to fill their vacancies. Mark McGowan, the Prime Minister of Western Australia and the South Australian Prime Minister Peter Malinauskas, among others, acknowledged that ensuring skilled migration is a major concern within the states and territories. According to the Premier of Western Australia, attracting new workers is one of the key challenges in securing continued economic growth.
What will be the solution?
Premier Albanese indicated that attempts are currently being made to resolve the issues internally. For example, people within the Department of Home Affairs working in other departments are being brought in to help deal with visa backlogs and long waiting times. According to him, this is clearly necessary and the easiest way to make an immediate difference.