Whenever migration policy reform is discussed, you can’t move for politicians lauding an ‘Australian-style points-based system’. It was one of the key pledges during the 2017 general election for the Conservative and UKIP parties, as well as for the Leave campaign in the run up to the Brexit referendum.
But what are the realities for immigrants seeking to move to Australia? How does it affect asylum seekers and so-called irregular migrants?
For those with professions the Australian government considers to be in high demand, migration is relatively straightforward. Architects, doctors and engineers are in short supply, and can normally meet the experience, English language and education requirements to gain their points. The UK itself possess a similar scheme for non-EU migrants. However, the Australian based points system, and the workers that qualify for it will enter jobs that are deemed as necessary by the Government, rather than business owners and employers as seen in the UK Model.
Despite this seemingly strict migration policy, Australia due to it’s liberal politics in the past 2 decades have seen a rise in migration that doubles that of the UK. Statistics from The Migration Observatory show that in 2018, 29% of the population of Australia was born abroad compared to 14% of that from Britain. Indeed, the country’s tolerance of skilled migrants has seen its migrant population percentage trump that of any nation in the top 10 countries with the highest migrant populations, with the exception of the United Arab Emirates.
But for those travelling from Indonesia by boat to reach Australia, the task is not so straightforward. For many the chance to leave their home in Indonesia, to work in Australia is too great to miss. Earlier this year, an Iranian refugee based in Indonesia remarked in the Guardian that the price of £3000 he payed for a boat across to Australia in 2012-13 will have dramatically risen. Many indeed do not want to risk taking the trip to Australia due to the risks that come with it, along with the fact that they cannot afford it due to their impoverished living situations in Indonesia.
New Medevac Legislation from the Australian parliament this year have ensured that people detained for trying to enter Australia will be eligible for medical care in Australia if their condition is serious enough. Despite this being seen as a victory for those trying to enter Australia, it’s Coalition government have condemned the move. Liberal Party Leader and Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that the new legislation had opened up the possibility of a Labour controlled government, which he believes will allow ‘people smugglers to have a crack’ in trafficking people into the country. Morrison also expressed fury at the fact that he had been forced to re-open a detention center on Christmas Island due to the expected increase of migrants in Australian territory.
It is clear, however, that Australia is still in a position to welcome migrants who wish to work and those who have faced hardship abroad. The Medevac policy is evidence of the openness and liberal nature of Australia’s ongoing relationship with it’s migrant population. However, the current government is clear in reinstating it’s conservative pride within the nation; this means limiting the number of refugees and migrants who are able to enter from South Asia and around the world, with their futures becoming even further unclear