Findings by The Treasury and Department of Home Affairs revealed migrants accounted for 65 per cent of the 850,000 jobs created over the past five years, while a whopping 72 per cent accounted for new full-time jobs created.
According to the 2016 Census, for the first time in Australia’s history, a greater proportion of people born overseas are now from Asia rather than from Europe, however more of Australia’s residents still have European ancestry.
Research commissioned by international money transfer service, TransferWise, shows that the majority of Aussies (75 per cent) believe migrants have helped build the country, have made it stronger (72 per cent) and should have a path to citizenship (74 per cent), but 55 per cent
still don’t believe it should be easier to migrate to Australia.
Nicholas Lembo, Australia country manager at TransferWise said it is clear that immigrants have been a key part of the success of Australia’s economy.
“Australia is a nation of migrants. Half of us are born overseas or are the children of immigrant parents, so being an ‘Aussie’ means many different things for many different people,” Mr Lembo told news.com.au
“Many of our customers have moved around the world and experienced all the difficulties that come with this — whether it’s missing family, finding a job, or sending money abroad.”
Its Faces of Australia report was based on 1004 respondents throughout Australia and included age, gender and region to reflect the latest population estimates.
“In the absence of migration, Australia’s workforce would begin shrinking in absolute terms by 2020; this would have far reaching effects including a significantly lower GDP,” Mr Lembo said.
The report revealed that Aussie Millennials have a more positive outlook on migration, with 44 per cent thinking it should be easier to migrate to the country, compared to 31 per cent for Gen X and 24 per cent for Baby Boomers.
Currently, Australia requires people to sign a values statement before entering the country, pass a citizenship test and pledge allegiance before becoming a citizen — the tougher crackdown has happened in the last 10 years and it is proving to hurt businesses.
Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge is even pushing for migrants to sit an Australian “values” test before being granted permanent residence.
Already feeling the pinch is reputable Australian-Indian chef and restaurateur Manjit Gujral.
Since his parents and brother opened the family’s first Indian restaurant in Australia back in the ’70s, the Gujrals have heavily relied on skilled Indian chefs with specific hospitality qualifications to help grow their restaurants.
Mr Gujral, who took over the family business, said more than 10 of the Indian migrants have gone on to open their own restaurants, now operating up to five of their own.
“It has become so difficult to get immigration in Australia and we are one of the biggest sufferers because the Indian chefs we need are not getting into Australia,” he told news.com.au.
“I have complained to the government that the laws are so difficult that you can’t fully run a business.”
Mr Gujral’s restaurants helped set the benchmark for authentic Indian cuisine across the country. The first restaurant opened in Sydney’s CBD, followed by Balmain, Darling Harbour, Corrimal and soon Wollongong, but Mr Gujral said he could soon be forced to close down of one of them.
“I am happy the economy is thriving and our restaurants are going good, people of all cultures love and support our food but I’ll be very honest, I am finding it hard, but we will make it happen,” he said.
At 66 there is no sign of Mr Gujral slowing down, unless the government budges, which he doesn’t see happening.
“If I had been in a situation where my son wasn’t the head chef, I wasn’t a chef, I didn’t have family and locals to help, then I would have to close a restaurant because there are not enough skilled people I need who can deliver,” he said.
“It is because of their support we are surviving.”
Australia’s migrants increasingly first enter the country on temporary visas, which is what Mr Gujral and his family did in the ’80s, before transitioning to permanent residency.
Permanent migrants are also increasingly coming through skilled path ways, including employer sponsored path ways, but the restaurateur said the stringent rules were making this harder, especially in the hospitality industry.
“There is a market for it, there is a demand. I am not asking for them to become permanent residents, if they are qualified to become permanent it is up to the government, but they need a chance.”
In the past financial year, the nation’s migration rate has dropped by 10 per cent with 21,000 less people being allowed into Australia.
Mr Gujral loves Australia, especially its dignity of labour and people’s authentic nature. “When I first arrived, I didn’t want to live in Australia, now I don’t want to leave it,” he said.
”More just needs to be done to lessen the harshness of migration rules to continue to help the economy thrive.”
Former Vietnam refugee Diem Fuggersberger, who lost her business and home during the GFC but turned a $900,000 debt into a multimillion-dollar business in five years also tells her story.
The report also features British Indian migrant Dr Dharmica Mistry who moved to Sydney with her family aged six and became one of the Australian scientists behind a groundbreaking breast cancer research discovery.
Elizabeth Lynne Mackenzie will always be known as the baby that brought up an important population milestone.