50,000 migrants skip COVID-19 queue

 

More than 50,000 foreigners have jumped the queue of stranded Australians desperate to fly home this year, as bosses demand more migrant workers despite pandemic border closures.

Only 39,950 Australian citizens have been allowed back to Australia this year, as state governments struggle with quarantining new arrivals to prevent outbreaks of COVID-19.

But 50,470 foreigners flew into Australia - meaning 10,520 more foreigners arrived than Australian citizens in the first three months of this year, despite a queue of more than 35,000 Aussies still waiting to come home.

New immigration data reveals that 18,600 foreign nationals arrived last month alone, compared to 14,300 Australian citizens.

They included 2530 partners, parents or children of Australian citizens, on family visas, plus 3700 workers on skilled visas, 3200 foreigners on temporary visas and 1950 on visitor visas, usually reserved for tourists.

New Zealanders made up 5100 arrivals last month, with 2000 Indian, 1300 Chinese, 1000 British and 750 American nationals.

 

Throughout the pandemic - from April 2020 to March this year - 154,180 Australians have returned home, while 143,070 foreign nationals flew into Australia.

The data was released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), on the eve of a federal parliamentary inquiry that is considering the need for more migrant workers.

Business groups will push for international arrivals to fill skills shortages and boost the economy, at a hearing in Melbourne today.

Australia's largest skills assessment provider, VETASSESS, wants more skilled migrants "prioritised for entry in the immediate term''.

"Concerns that migrants will take jobs that would have otherwise gone to locals is no excuse for holding Australia back in the race for global talent,'' it states in its submission to the inquiry.

The Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes will tell the hearing that Australia needs more foreign scientists.

Australia's year-long border closure "has meant that medical research institutes have been unable to make any new appointments from overseas,'' its submission states.

"It has not been possible to recruit any international research students, which is problematic as these students contribute a significant proportion of Australia's medical research effort,'' it states.

 

 

Australian Border Force said yesterday that 80 per cent of overseas arrivals are Australian citizens, permanent residents who arrive on foreign passports, or their immediate family.

Foreigners were allowed to Australia in "limited circumstances where an individual has critical skills, such as supporting the medical sector, or compassionate circumstances, such as to attend a funeral'', it said in a statement.

The parliamentary inquiry into migration has revealed that more than 500,000 temporary visa holders have left Australia since the start of the pandemic, creating "significant skills shortages''.

In an interim report last month, it said half the businesses in NSW and one third of those in Western Australia were short of skilled staff, and called for more chefs and veterinarians to be brought in urgently from overseas.

Originally published as 50,000 migrants skip COVID-19 queue



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