Australia is set to surpass the 185,000 permanent migrants’ record it set in 1969 this year.

Speaking at a public lecture at the Australian National University, Michael Pezzullo, Secretary of Department of Immigration and Border Protection said “a permanent migration programme is so crucial for our long-term economic prosperity and our demographic health.”

Mr Pezzullo reflected on seven decades of migration in Australia.

“In 1945, Australia had a population of fewer than 7.5 million, predominantly of Anglo-Celtic heritage. In June 2015, after seventy years of focused effort and toil by my Department and others, Australia will have a population of around 24 million – over three times as many people as in 1945,” he said.

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The DIBP secretary emphasised the importance of a targeted migration program.

“If a nation’s immigration programme is well crafted and targeted, and migrants enjoy high levels of economic participation, as distinct from high levels of social exclusion and welfare-dependency, immigration has beneficial impacts in terms of growth in the demand for goods and services; increases in national income, and living standards; improved labour participation; expansion of the economy’s productive capacity; and growth in household consumption and public revenues,” Mr Pezzullo said.

This view was shared by Migration Solutions Managing Director Mark Glazbrook, who wants actions rather than words to enable the full benefits of a well-targeted migration model to be achieved, especially here in South Australia.

Mr Glazbrook believes that one such change that would benefit SA is the Significant Investor Visa program (SIV). “This must change in SA to increase the amount of overseas investors that are coming to SA.”

The current SIV program requires migrants to invest $5 million into an Australian business over four years, but Mr Glazbrook wants that lowered to $3 million over five years in regional areas.

“SA should be doing everything possible to make the program as accessible as possible,’’ he said.

Mr Pezzullo indicated that Australia will soon have the capabilities to issue more visas.

“Australia is on the verge of issuing more than five million visas annually for visitor, temporary residency and migration purposes.

In a packed lecture room Mr Pezzullo looked towards the future and hoped the next 70 years leaves an even greater legacy.

“Do we have the courage, wit and presence of mind to think about the platform that we will leave for those who might address this University in seven decades time, when most of us will long be gone, or in our twilight years?

“I can assure you that in my Department we are very committed to thinking and acting in those terms, and building something that will prove to be of enduring value.

“If I could live to see it, I should like to think that I might proudly look on in the 2080s, as our successors look back on how we shaped and managed the immigration function, which is still today doing so much to transform our nation, and will continue to do so over those decades ahead.”

Mr Glazbrook said, “It will be interesting to see how the current skilled migration review unfolds, as this will shape the future of the skilled migration programme.”

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