The Australian government is in favor of an increase in the wages of skilled temporary migrants

A sales assistant is seen through the window of a retail store displaying a vacancy sign in central Sydney, Australia, December 5, 2016. Picture taken December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Steven Saphore

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SYDNEY, Sept 4 (Reuters) – The Australian government supports lifting the income threshold for some temporary migrants, Skills and Training Minister Brendan O’Connor said on Sunday as it works to remedy the general shortage of workers.

The issue of skilled migration was at the center of this week’s government jobs summit, where Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called for compromises between employers and unions to address the country’s key economic challenges.

The government announced on Friday it would increase its inflow of permanent migrants to 195,000 this financial year, up 35,000, to help understaffed businesses and reduce reliance on short-term workers .

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Staff shortages have been exacerbated recently by an explosion in visa processing times in Australia, which has left an estimated one million potential workers stranded in limbo.

Speaking on ABC television, O’Connor said the government would consider raising the skilled temporary migration income threshold, which has been A53,900 since 2013.

“I think there needs to be a lifting of this measure,” he said, not specifying whether the cap should be raised to A$65,000 in line with centre-left Labor Party policy before he does not take power after the general elections in May.

“These are complex issues and we need to determine how we deal with each sector,” O’Connor added.

Staff shortages, both in high-skilled and low-wage industries like aged care, have been difficult after the COVID-19 pandemic closed Australia’s borders for nearly two years, and that many holiday workers and foreign students have left.

Australia’s unemployment rate is now at 3.4%, its lowest level in nearly 50 years, and labor shortages have contributed to soaring inflation that has squeezed real wages.

Also on Sunday, O’Connor dismissed claims that the move to so-called multi-employer industrial bargaining would lead to more strikes in Australia.

Labor has previously backed a union proposal to consider multi-employer bargaining, which could see workers across all sectors band together to push for better pay and conditions.

“The breathless hysteria about massive arguments that occur because we’re using a new vehicle to negotiate is not borne out by the facts,” O’Connor said. “That doesn’t happen where there’s sectoral bargaining or multi-employer bargaining.”

Australia competes with other developed economies, such as Germany and Canada, to attract more highly skilled immigrants as the country’s aging population increases demand.

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Reporting by Sam McKeith Editing by Nick Zieminski and Simon Cameron-Moore

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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