Australia's opposition Labor party calls for migration rethink post Covid-19

More than a quarter of Australia's population is foreign born.
More than a quarter of Australia's population is foreign born.PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) - Australia's opposition party is calling for a reduction in migrant numbers post-Covid-19, saying the country's historic reliance on immigration to boost growth has hurt workers.

"Do we want migrants to return to Australia in the same numbers and in the same composition as before the crisis?"

Labor's shadow home affairs minister Kristina Keneally wrote in an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald. "Our answer should be no."

In particular, Keneally called for a reduction in the number of young, lower-skilled temporary workers permitted to enter the country and more investment in skills training for locals.

More than a quarter of Australia's population is foreign born, the second largest in the OECD. While high levels of migration have been an essential component of the country's record-breaking run of economic growth, recent years have seen a growing popular backlash.

The majority of newcomers head for big cities like Sydney and Melbourne, and there have been increasing complaints that population growth is reducing the quality of everyday life, straining infrastructure and pushing up house prices.