With visa workers returning home due to Australia’s Coronavirus restrictions, the nation’s economy is at a very real risk of running out of working people. As is the case with many developed nations, Australia’s low birth rate sees the country going backwards regarding productivity without immigration workers there to shore up the leak.
Migration is seen as an essential part of the nation’s economy due to the fact that there does not seem to be a local solution. We see in Australia a birth-rate of 1.9 children on average per couple, which is less than the previous generation, and sees our local population shrinking as the decades roll by.
Migrants and immigration have long since been a requisite part of our economy since European settlement, from the massive influx of Asian migrants during the gold rush through to the post-war era. Australia’s economy has seen greater production and consumer demand thanks in large part to the migrant workforce that has been a part of the workings of our economy since inception.
With the locking down of borders in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the immigration flow has been reduced to zero for the first time in recent history, and threatens to further upset the already struggling Australian economy.
The bracket of Australians who pay income tax resides within the twenty to sixty year-old demographic, which only makes up around 48% of the country’s population, and is shrinking by 0.2% each year. This metric took into account the roughly 165,000 immigrants welcomed into the country each year. Without these migrants, the Australian economy will see even further contraction than first realised.
There are no solutions to the Coronavirus pandemic without a vaccine, only trade-offs. Migrant workers fulfil a vital role in the Australian economy, and have done so since the beginning. Perhaps extending a Jobseeker payment to Visa workers during this pandemic may help prop up businesses relying on migrant workers as a part of their financial blueprint, and prevent the contraction or even collapse of businesses across numerous sectors.
The delicate balancing act of ensuring the best public health practices against preventing permanent damage to the economy continues daily.