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Federal Immigration Minister Alex Hawke says, “we want migrants and visitors back ASAP.”

Australia’s newly-appointed Immigration Minister Alex Hawke says the government plans to allow migrants and visitors back into the country as soon as possible.

In an interview with SBS News, Mr. Hawke discussed the impacts of COVID-19 on migration and post-pandemic Australia.

Due to border closures under the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia’s net migration has dropped to harmful levels not seen since World War Two.

From a migrant family and of Greek-Australian origin, Mr. Hawke says migration will be a crucial aspect of Australia’s recovery from the pandemic.

A parliamentary committee has recommended that reviews are conducted into the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List, hoping to expand the number of occupations to better reflect the urgent skills shortages in the context of pandemic recovery.

The report recommends civil engineers, electrical engineers, mechanics, cooks, carpenters, electricians, health, trades, and many jobs in agriculture and manufacturing should be added.

Mr. Hawke says the government is focused on filling labor shortages for small businesses in Australia.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australia has also seen a decrease in international student arrivals – by 99 percent since 2020.

Pre-pandemic, international students and tourists were Australia’s fourth-largest export after iron ore, coal, and gas.

Mr. Hawke indicated skilled migrants, international students and tourists would be given priority once international borders open.

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