Skills mix trumps total migrant intake in building future Australia: Property Council

The Property Council of Australia has cautiously welcomed the emphasis on boosting construction skills in Australia’s immigration mix to help increase the supply of new homes as outlined in tonight’s Budget in Reply.

The Coalition tonight made a construction pledge that it will ‘ensure there are enough skilled and temporary skilled visas for those with building and construction skills to support our local tradies to build the homes we need’, while it plans to reduce the number of permanent migrants to 140,000 and to cut the number of international students.

Property Council of Australia Chief Executive Mike Zorbas said while an intelligent reduction in the immigration level below 500,000 people per year makes sense, an emphasis on the skills needed to support our ageing population and fill the large gaps across key industries must be a priority.

“The key to balancing migration policy is to focus on skills rather than overall numbers,” Mr Zorbas said.

“We have consistently supported a targeted reduction to overall migration numbers from the post-pandemic peak, but the key to addressing housing affordability remains increasing the total number of new homes we build. We need faster zoning, approvals and last mile infrastructure but most of all we need the people who will build our cities.

“The stark reality is that only 1.8 per cent of migrants coming into the country over the past twenty years have arrived with the construction skills we desperately need, and with ambitious housing goals ahead of us, we must boost that number.

“We do caution against arbitrary caps on the number of international students, recognising the Student Accommodation Council’s valuable research that shows that international students make up only four per cent of Australia’s rental market and are not to blame for the housing crisis,” he said.

The Property Council also noted the Coalition’s plan to implement a two-year ban on foreign investors and temporary residents purchasing existing homes in Australia.

“The sensible carve-out for new homes recognises the importance of global investment to support new housing supply,” Mr Zorbas said.

“The only way to properly address the nation’s housing deficit is to build more homes using domestic and global investment and to do this we need to improve investment settings, incentivise housing approvals and fix broken state planning systems, and boost high quality housing options including retirement living, purpose-built student accommodation and build-to-rent housing,” he said.

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