Upskill not at the expense of migration: Australian Treasurer

Raising the migration cap to help ease skills shortages in Australia cannot come at the expense of training the workforce, said Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers.

The Business Council of Australia is urging the government to temporarily increase the permanent migration cap to 220,000 to make up for the migration shortfall during the pandemic.

Chalmers says the government will consider sensible migration policy and reform at the upcoming skills and jobs summit, but Australians should not be deprived of opportunities in the labor market.

“We cannot fall into the trap of saying migration is a substitute for training, we need to act on both fronts sensibly,” the Treasurer told Sky News’ AM Agenda on Sunday.

“We can do something sensible (with immigration), we can have more appropriate frameworks for our economy at the same time as we train more of our people for more of these opportunities, as well as make it easier for people to participate in work market.”

The treasurer also defended the non-participation of bank leaders in the government summit on employment in early September.

“Banking CEOs will be very competently represented by (Australian Banking Association Director) Anna Bligh,” Chalmers said.

“I talk to bank CEOs all the time as part of my job. I’ve had meetings with each of them over the last month or so. And they obviously make an essential contribution to our economic policies.

“More generally, you know, it’s not possible to fit everyone you’d like to fit into an employment summit. In a number of cases, we have peak groups representing a larger constituency.

Nationals leader David Littleproud attends the summit despite being snubbed by opposition leader Peter Dutton.

Littleproud says while he agrees with Dutton’s assertion that it could be a hit, it was rare for rural and regional Australia to be given such a platform.

“The National Party only deals with regional rural Australia. We have a purity of purpose,” he told AM Agenda.

“We very rarely have a voice. We think as Nationals it was important that we used any platform, no matter how hollow.

“That we are here to champion unique policies, which will respond to the challenges regional and rural Australians face.”

Finance Minister Katy Gallagher said the government was doing all it could to raise wages after the Greens threatened to block any legislation from the summit if it did not include measures to raise workers’ wages people.

“We’re doing everything we can to support wage growth,” Gallagher told the ABC.

“This week’s jobs summit gives us another opportunity to talk about wages, to talk about skills shortages, labor shortages and some of the other challenges that businesses and unions want to discuss. “


Nina Nguyen is a Sydney-based journalist. She covers Australian news with a focus on social, cultural and identity issues. She is fluent in Vietnamese. Contact her at [email protected]

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