The latest ABS population update for the year-ending March 2020 revealed a minor drop in net overseas migration due to the international border closure on 20 March 2020. [1]  However, NOM is still way too high at 220,500 migrants, comprising nearly 62% of Australia’s total population growth (357,000 more people)

It is concerning that the Federal Government have not yet revealed an appetite to moderate immigration and population growth. There is clearly a range of labour force and economic factors to contemplate. Which suggests now is the time for the Fedral Government to adopt more conservative immigration and population projections.

Net overseas migration in Western Australia

How was the McGowan Government dealing with NOM migration up to March 2020? In 2017 the McGowan Government committed to delivering a measured migration program. But this did not last long under pressure from Industry lobby groups demanding a big increase in migrants. Greater Perth was opened up to over 500 regional visas and over 200 occupations for foreign students.

State migration policy needs to be underpinned by a sound methodology. This includes local workforce and unemployment assessment, housing industry capacity and infrastructure planning.

The latest ABS immigration numbers suggest the McGowan Government are misusing this great opportunity to set immigration targets in an orderly and staged way. For March 2020, NOM reached its highest level since 2012 (WA resource boom period). When the McGowan Government was elected in 2017-18, net overseas migration was less than 12,000, (see Chart 1 below). By 2019-20, NOM has more than doubled reaching 25,000, an increase of 107%.[2]

State migration push and pull factors

State Migration policy has a substantial role in Australia’s permanent and temporary migration program. State Government’s can activate several migration pull factors or they can choose to inhibit a tide of visa applications. The pull factor is characterised by larger migration occupation lists with lower skill eligibility. State Government agencies and university groups etc, market the State as having much employment and visas opportunities to attract new migrants.

Governments’ that offers the most occupations, visa extensions and invitations, are the one most migrants will move to and vice versa.

The push factor remains for migrants from underdeveloped and developing countries. The motivation to move to another country involves many reasons, such as poverty, low wages, lack of good services, high crime rates etc.[3]

Most of Australia’s recent migrants (temporary and permanent) come from poverty stricken countries in South Asia and Southeast Asia. Therefore the push factor is strong.

State Government can make a big difference to the skill sets invitations and the type of of occupations on offer. Which in some ways reflects a Government’s Industry policy direction towards high skilled value added technologies, as opposed to lower skilled Industry requirements.

A restricted visa invitation list can focus on higher skilled applicants with excellent English literacy. This in turn helps the State economy, productivity and complements the local workforce.

(Source, Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2020.[4])


[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘National, State and Territory Population, March 2020’, 2020 <> [accessed 29 September 2020].

[2] Australian Bureau of Statistics.

[3] British Broadcasting Corporation, ‘Why Do People Migrate? – Migration Trends’, BBC Bitesize <> [accessed 30 September 2020].

[4] Australian Bureau of Statistics.

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