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Migration to benefit the economy by $1.6 trillion

15 September 20150 comments

An increased migration intake of 250,000 people a year would help offset the country’s ageing population, according to a new report by the Migration Council of Australia (MCA).

The report found that by 2050, migration will contribute about $1.6 trillion to the economy and it says the economic benefits of migration are unambiguous.

“What we get in terms of gains is quite amazing for Australia, and something that we should be encouraging,” said Migration Council Australia’s CEO, Carla Wilshire.

She said the report released recently looked at the economic impact of migration over the next 35 years.

“Migration will be adding $1.6 trillion to Australia’s GDP. So in a single year, about 40% of GDP will be owing, in some form, to the migration program that we run,” Ms Wilshire said.

The figures are based on the current migration intake of 215,000 people and the forward forecast of 257,000 by 2017-18.

The MCA says a healthy migration program is critical to address the country’s fiscal deficit and the ageing population.

“Migration by 2050 will increase the labour market participation by 15%. So obviously, in some sense, when we have a migration program that’s larger, the impact is going to be larger,” Ms Wilshire said.

“It’s also going to have an impact in terms of fiscal revenues for government because migrants, generally speaking, have high participation rates, because they’re young, because they’re highly skilled and will contribute more to the tax base but don’t necessarily draw down more in terms of government services.

“In fact, there’s less of a spend per migrant in terms of government services. And so when you combine those two factors, their impact is to contribute more in some senses to the government’s fiscal bottom line,” she said.

Australia’s projected population is 38 million by 2050 but without migration, that would stagnate at 24 million.

Currently, 70 per cent of Australia’s migration intake is for skilled entries and that is combined with temporary programs like 457 and seasonal Pacific visas.

“The migration program has changed over the past two decades and what we’re going to reap over the next 35 years is the benefits of those changes, we put ourselves in a very advantageous position as a country to be able to really utilise that in our forward growth and as to that to factor into our own prosperity,” Ms Wilshire said.

“If you don’t increase the migration program, or if you were to stop the migration program all together, the consequences would be very significant. You would lose that gain in terms of the 15% participation bump; you would lose in terms of employment. You would lose the injection of highly skilled individuals into the Australian economy.

“And this migration, it leads to about a 60% increase in the population with a university education. Those are all really significant factors in terms of our economic wellbeing, which really relies on healthy high levels of migration to the country,” Ms Wilshire said.



Jess Phillips
AMES Australia Staff Writer