Government says it could consider boosting minimum pay threshold for temporary skilled migrants

The federal government has flagged the potential for temporary skilled migrants to earn more as it attempts to tackle widespread shortages of workers.
Skills and Training Minister Brendan O’Connor said on Sunday the government would examine raising the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold, which has been at $53,900 since 2013.
“I think there has to be a lifting of that measure,” he said.
He did not comment on whether the cap should be hiked to A$65,000 in line with the Labor Party’s policy before it took government following May’s general election.

“These are complex issues and we need to work out how we deal with each sector,” Mr O’Connor added.

The issue of skilled migration was a focus at this week’s government jobs summit, where Prime Minister Anthony Albanese urged compromises between employers and unions to tackle the country’s key economic challenges.
The government announced on Friday it would , to help businesses with staff shortfalls and ease reliance on short-term workers.
Staff shortages have been exacerbated recently by a blowout in visa processing times in Australia, which has left about a million prospective workers stuck in limbo.

Staff shortages, in both high-skilled and lower-pay industries like aged care, bit hard after the COVID-19 pandemic closed Australia’s borders for nearly two years, and a lot of holiday workers and foreign students left.

Income limits also raised for disability pensioners

Australians living with a disability will also be able to earn extra income without losing their pension benefits, the skills and training minister also confirmed.
Following the jobs and skills summit last week, the federal government also announced changes to mobilise the so-called grey army in a bid to address labour shortages.
Under the changes, people on the aged and veterans pension will receive a one-off income credit to earn an extra $4,000 in this financial year without losing their benefits.

People on the disability support pension (DSP) will also be eligible under the reforms, Mr O’Connor said.

The changes only apply to Disability Support Pension recipients over the Age Pension age, not all DSP recipients.
The $4,000 income increase without a pension being affected would apply to the DSP, he said.
“We have an opportunity here to make sure that people can access the labour market who have been locked out for years (and) that includes people with a disability,” he told ABC Insiders on Sunday.

“There’s no reason why people on the Disability Support Pension couldn’t get out and have a crack and do a little bit of work to try and help our economy grow,” he said on Friday. “People with a disability deserve that same choice, to get out there and be the people that we want to be.”

2022 Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott told last week’s summit people living with a disability were ready for employment opportunities. Source: AAP / LUKAS COCH/AAPIMAGE

Australia’s jobless rate now stands at a near 50-year-low of 3.4 per cent, and labour shortages have contributed to surging inflation that has reduced real wages.

Also, on Sunday, Mr O’Connor rejected claims that a move to so-called multi-employer industrial bargaining would lead to more strikes in Australia.
Labor has previously backed a union proposal to consider multi-employer bargaining, which could enable workers across sectors to band together to push for better pay and conditions.
“The breathless hysteria about massive disputation happening because we use a new vehicle to bargain is not borne out by the facts,” Mr O’Connor said.
“That doesn’t happen where there’s sector bargaining or multi-employer bargain.”

Australia is competing with other developed economies, like Germany and Canada, to attract more high-skilled immigrants as the country’s ageing population heightens demand.

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