Migrants are making Perth houses more expensive and crowding cities, but a proposal to slug them $55,000 for a visa should not go ahead, according to the Productivity Commission.
High levels of immigration have made Australia’s major cities more congested and expensive, the Productivity Commission has found in a report that urges the Government to set a “population policy” for the country.
In a wide-ranging examination of the nation’s migration program, the commission said State and local governments had let down Australians by “persistent failure” to deal with the continuing influx of immigrants.
And it also partly backed long-time complaints from unions that some employers had wound back training of local Australian staff, instead relying on short-term skilled migrants.
According to the commission, Australia’s population will reach 40 million by 2060 largely off the back of the country’s immigration intake. Without migrants, Australia would be home to about 27 million, just 2.5 million than the current population.
The commission argues there is an economic dividend from Australia’s migration levels but admits there has been a cost, mostly borne by people living in the major capitals such as Perth.
One of the biggest has been the impact on house and land prices which, while benefiting existing home owners, was hurting future generations who were finding it difficult to afford a house of their own.
“High rates of immigration put upward pressure on land and housing prices in Australia’s largest cities,” it found.
“Upward pressures are exacerbated by the persistent failure of successive State, Territory and local governments to implement sound urban planning and zoning policies.”
To deal with the nation’s population pressures, the commission has recommended the creation of a population policy which would be updated every five years in line with the Government’s intergenerational report.
That policy would look at the future size of Australia’s population and what pressures, both on communities and the environment, it would impart.
There has been a push to overhaul how Australia takes migrants, particularly in non-humanitarian sectors such as skilled and family reunion.
The commission considered a proposal being pushed in some quarters for the Government to introduce a $55,000 fee for all visas in a move that the commission estimates would raise $9 billion a year in revenue.
But it rejected the idea, saying it could cause major problems particularly for migrants who would be denied welfare and other forms of assistance for decades to help cover the cost of the change.