IN the late 1990s John Howard introduced the changes to our immigration policy for the Chinese Middle Class to embrace the offer of ‘flexible citizenship’ in return for investing in property and education
THE latter years of Mr Howard’s prime ministership delivered significant increase to net overseas migration as a proportion of the population.
BY the time of the 2007 election, his government had doubled the permanent intake.
IN both the 457 — temporary business visa — and overseas student categories, Mr Howard oversaw significant growth from the turn of the century.
The 457 Visa was conceived when Paul Keating was Prime Minister. The aim being to plug skills gaps in the labor market. However, it meant Visa workers were in fact exploited by employers …
WORKERS WITHOUT BORDERS BEYOND THE SETTLER SOCIETY AND 457 VISA WORKERS
How John Howard boosted migration and embraced foreign students, in five charts
Former prime minister Tony Abbott wants Australia to cut its immigration intake to what it was under the Howard government.
He told an internet radio station on Tuesday afternoon that “we’ve got to get the numbers down, and get them down very significantly”.
“[John] Howard got them down 30 per cent in the first couple of years of his prime ministership,” he said to the Daily Telegraph show.
“We should look to getting [the migration intake] back down towards 110,000 a year, which was the average of the decade of the Howard government.”
The declaration follows comments from Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton last week where he signalled “we have to reduce the numbers where we believe it’s in our national interest”.
Changes in Australia’s immigration sector were significant under Mr Howard, but not because his government kept the permanent intake — now at 190,000 visas per year — low.
Share of population growth
Every year since John Howard lost the 2007 election to Kevin Rudd, more of Australia’s population growth has been attributed to migration than a natural increase due to births.
*The period under Howard was transitional, but brought substantial migration growth in its later years.
Migration as proportion of population
Stretching back to the first half of the 20th century, the above chart from Treasury’s 2015 Intergenerational Report identified three separate phases in Australia’s rate of migration.
Treasury describes the rate in the past decade as exceeding the rate of any period since World War II.
Much of Mr Howard’s time as prime minister was linked — by the Treasury’s chart — to a period of low migration.
However the latter years of Mr Howard’s prime ministership delivered significant increase to net overseas migration as a proportion of the population.
The planned size of the migration program — the number of permanent visas the government plans to grant each year — was reduced in the early Howard years.
*Those reductions were more than made up for in later years.
*By the time of the 2007 election, his government had doubled the permanent intake.
Permanent visa streams
The growth to the permanent program under Howard came in the “points tested” category of the skilled stream, as noted in the above chart from the Productivity Commission’s 2016 report on the migrant intake.
Under the points scheme, applicants are scored based on their background. More points are given for characteristics deemed preferable, like superior English and employment experience.
In contrast, the employer-sponsored permanent visas — where migrants have already lined up jobs — has been the source of growth in the years following Mr Howard’s time as PM.
Student and 457 visas
A major change to the migration program in recent decades has been the increase in temporary migration.
Many temporary visa holders come to Australia to work, and even those who come to study can work up to 20 hours in a typical week.
*In both the 457 — temporary business visa — and overseas student categories, Mr Howard oversaw significant growth from the turn of the century.