The paper describes the evolution of migration policy in Australia from the 1950s onwards. It focuses in particular on the period after 1995 when the Australian Government concentrated its migration program on skilled immigrants, both permanent and temporary. While conceived as separate programs, over time, the permanent and temporary movements have been merged so that most new permanent skilled immigrants make an application on shore while holding a temporary resident visa. This approach seems to have served Australia well in a time of strong labour demand and a dwindling domestic supply of labour. Australia’s international program will be important in the future as it slows the pace of population ageing and provides necessary skills to an otherwise static labour force.


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