Labor’s Win and Likely Changes to Australian Immigration

With the introduction of a new Australian Government, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) is likely to bring a new stance on immigration policy. See our analysis of the possible changes to Australian immigration policy based on the ALP’s election promises.

Labor vs Liberal

Skilled MigrationAcknowledgement of labour shortages and demand for skilled migrant workers. Willing to rely on skilled migrant workers as a temporary solution post COVID-19.Skilled migration capped at 160,000 and no plans to increased if limit is reached
Permanent SettlementShift towards an immigration policy that encourages permanent settlement of migrants to encourage workers to come to Australia.-
People seeking asylum and RefugeesRemoving the temporary protection visa scheme (TPV) in acknowledgement of it becoming redundant since 2013.
Supports boat turnbacks when safe.
Supporting Temporary Protection Visas (TPV) for people seeking asylum
Supporting boat turnback's when safe

Refugees and People Seeking Asylum

The ALP is in support of removing temporary protection visas (TPV) due to their redundant nature as no person seeking asylum in Australia has been granted a TPV if they have arrived by boat since 2013. Those who are living in the community on TPV visas and who arrived in Australia prior to 2013, are likely to be granted permanent visas.

However, it is important to note that they are in favour of boat turnback’s when it is safe. Despite this, one of the first acts of the Labor Government was the announced return of the Murugappan Family to their beloved town Biloela, Queensland. This was an ongoing case since 2019 where attempts were made to deport the family back to Sri Lanka, a country in which they feared persecution. This decision, whilst not providing the Tamil family a permanent future in Australia yet, demonstrates the Labor government’s softer approach in comparison to the previous Liberal Government towards people seeking asylum.


Parent Visa Program

Australia is one of the most strict countries regarding parent visa processing. The policy underlying the strict parent visa process is due to a higher intake of aged parents results in an ageing population.

According to SBS News, as of 30 April. 123,370 parent visa applications are pending and awaiting to be processed.[1] It is speculated that new applications that are being lodged and meet the criteria are queued and then will likely take a minimum of 30 years to be processed

There remains hope for improvement of the backlog now that the Labor government has been elected with those impacted willing to advocate for the parent visa backlog to be resolved.

Based on the Department of Home Affairs website, in January 2022, the Department released Contributory Parent Visa applications from June 2016, Parent visa applications from October 2010 and Aged Parent visa applications from December 2013 to be released for final processing.[2]

The Department does not release processing times for parent visa applications due to the caps and queues that apply. The Contributory Aged Parent visa applications will take 65 months for final processing. The New Parent and Aged Parent visa applications are stated to take at least 30 years for final processing.


[1] Akash Akora, ‘Can a new campaign and government change the rate of 120,000 parent visa applications stuck in limbo?’ SBS News, 27 May 2022 <–ryJyIOa8okbg6Jcx_aKODw48lBb1nkCROjo>.

[2] Department of Home Affairs, “Visa Processing Times: Parent visas – queue release dates and processing times” <>

Temporary Workers Migration Program

ALP has recognised the labour shortages and subsequent demand for skilled workers. As a result, they are likely to rely on skilled migrant workers as a temporary solution to fulfill labour demands.

There are three ways the ALP has announced they will be fulfilling labour shortages through regional migration programs including:

  • Pacific Australia Labour Mobility – Seasonal Worker Program
  • Pacific Australia Labour Mobility – Pacific Labour Scheme
  • New Pacific Engagement Visa
PALM – Seasonal Worker Program

The PALM Seasonal Worker Program (SWP) allows international workers from the Pacific to travel to Australia to fulfill labour shortages in the agriculture sector for up to 9 months.

Labor has declared they will improve the PALM Labour Scheme to attract more Pacific workers and implement necessary precautions to avoid exploitation and mistreatment of temporary migrant workers.

The changes to be introduced that were announced prior to the election are:

  • Australian government to meet the workers’ international and domestic travel costs upfront taking into consideration the $300 that is covered by approved employers
  • Review of the administrative requirements and costs to reduce the burden on SWP employers
  • Increasing the program duration from 9 months to 11 months

ALP have also demonstrated their intention to improve workplace compliance activities through:

  • Increased information and education about the needs of vulnerable workers including temporary migrant workers
  • Amending the Fair Work Act to improve workplace protections for temporary migrant workers
  • Establish security measures between the Department of Home Affairs and Fair Work Ombudsman to ensure migrant workers are protected when lodging complaints
PALM – Pacific Labour Scheme

The PALM – Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) allows Pacific workers to travel to Australian to fulfill labour shortages for 1 to 4 years. Currently, PALM PLS workers are unable to bring their family members to Australia when they migrate. This is a factor that discourages Pacific workers from applying to the PALM PLS due to the duration of the visa being quite long.

The ALP have promised to change this to allow pacific workers under this scheme to bring their partners and dependent children. The same rules will be applied that the TSS visa operates under for partners and dependents. These include:

  • Must be agreed to by the employer sponsor
  • Family members must meet all health and character requirements
  • Family members are permitted to live, work or study in Australia however do not qualify for study assistance
Encouraging Permanent Migration through a Pacific Lottery Process

Labor intends to further encourage permanent migration through allocating up to 3,000 visas annually for a new Pacific Engagement Visa. This visa is for Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste to encourage Pacific permanent migration. This visa program is said to commence in July 2023 and based on the New Zealand Pacific Access Resident Category visa. The features of this visa are:

  • Applicant aged between 18 and 45 years
  • Partners and dependent children can be included
  • Applicant or partner must have a job offer in Australia
  • Language, health, and character requirements must be met
  • Applicants who are selected will have a period to obtain a full-time job offer

There is yet to be further information published on this new visa program. This page will be updated once more information is published.


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