There are, at present, more than 1 million temporary migrants living in Australia. These include Work Visa holders, international students and working holidaymakers. They also include New Zealanders and refugees on protection visas.
From the permanent settler model that characterized Australia in the 20th century, the contemporary scene is quite the opposite. A significant chunk of the Australian population is “temporary” or “unsettled”. They are contributing to the Australian economy by all means, yet do not have a say in the affairs of the country.
If the Australian govt. continues to treat migration as a contractual agreement, then migrants too will reciprocate the same way. Rather than feeling a connection to the country, migrants will only look towards what they can get out of the country. Australia recently announced bringing down permanent migration numbers, as per SBS News. Hence, many migrants face the prospects of living in Australia only temporarily.
Temporary migration should lead to permanent settlement. Australia should help temporary migrants settle down in the country unconditionally. Migrants should not be dependent on an employer’s sponsorship or a particular test score to settle in permanently.
Australia should set a threshold on temporariness. Unfortunately, there is no set formula to achieve the same.
The longer a migrant stays in Australia, the stronger should be his claim to PR. The Australian govt. should set a certain time period post which such migrants can settle in. For example, a PR in Australia must wait 2 years to avail social security payments. To apply for citizenship, a PR should have been living in Australia for 4 years.
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