One million long-term arrivals entered Australia in 2023, is that sustainable?

"This is placing immense pressure on housing and our critical infrastructure and has not solved our worker shortage crisis.”

Today, the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) has released new research analysing the growth of Australia’s migration program, based on new data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The IPA is an independent, non-profit public policy think tank, dedicated to preserving
and strengthening the foundations of economic and political freedom. This report is authored by Dr Kevin You, Senior Fellow at the IPA, and Morgan Begg, Director of Research at the IPA.

Image: Daniel Wild, Deputy Executive Director of the IPA (Source: IPA)

Daniel Wild, Deputy Executive Director of the IPA, said in a sattement:

“The latest data from the ABS reinforces the unprecedented and unplanned size and growth of Australia’s migration intake.”

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He added:

“This is placing immense pressure on housing and our critical infrastructure and has not solved our worker shortage crisis.”

Image: : Net permanent and long-term arrivals vs net overseas migration (Source: IPA)

The IPA’s analysis has established:

  • 2023 was the first year in history where Australia’s permanent and long-term arrivals topped one million, at 1,091,210. By way of context, it took a decade for the 1 millionth post-World War Two migrant to arrive in Australia in 1955.
  • Net migration arrivals for 2023 were 447,790, by far the highest on record, the second highest occurring in 2008 at 327,680.
  • The share of new net migration as a proportion of the total population in 2023 is double the post-World War Two average annual rate of 1.67 per cent compared with the long run average of 0.79%.

The research also established that the share of the Australian population born overseas is now at a record 31%.

This is more than double the USA and UK at 15% and 14% respectively, and higher than Canda at 21% and NZ at 29%.

Mr Wild further observed:

“Migration has and will continue to play a critical role to our national social fabric and economy, but failure to undertake proper planning has directly driven housing shortages, household cost of living increases and has placed pressure on our education, health, and welfare systems.”

Mr Wild said that the immigration program has failed to address Australia’s worker shortage crisis.

“Australia has and always will be a welcoming country, we have a rich multi-ethnic and multi-racial culture, but unsustainably increasing migration is not in the interest of a majority of Australians, including those who recently migrated here themselves.”

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In December 2023, IPA research found the Australian federal government’s migration program is out of step with community expectations. Polling showed 60% of Australians want migration paused until more housing and infrastructure is built. Only 23% did not want a pause, and 17% unsure.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also announced that the country’s migration intake needed to be wound back to a “sustainable level.”

Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil announced “It’s time to get migration working for the nation.”

She added:

“The new Migration Strategy will bring migration back to sustainable levels, ensuring we have the skills we need for the future and, ultimately, make sure the system is working in the interests of all Australians.”

The key areas covered in the government’s 100-pages policy document are revising temporary skilled migration, end rorting of the international education system, replacing annual migration plans with longer-term forecasting, and getting the states and territories more involved in decision making. The Albanese government believes these changes are the “biggest reforms in a generation.”

Note: The ABS categories of permanent arrivals, long-term visitors arriving, and long-term residents returning equate to “permanent and long-term arrivals” in this report. The individuals in these categories are the same those included in the net overseas migration figure, with the exception of the 12/16 rule, where new arrivals count as overseas migrants if they stayed in Australia for 12 out of the last 16 months.

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