What role does long-term certainty play in immigration policy? Asiandelight/Shutterstock.
IBTimes UK

Describing the immigration policies of Labor and Coalition as "short-termism," an immigration policy expert cautioned that parties should maintain a rational debate if they are making it a key issue in the polls.

Speaking at the National Press Club on Wednesday, Abul Rizvi, former deputy secretary of the immigration department, asked both the parties to remain calm and have rational conversations on the issue of net migration ahead of the poll or it could lead to civil unrest, The Guardian reported.

Rizvi added that Australia needs a well-managed migration program, as it impacts every aspects of public policy and the broader market economy.

"The danger with an election fought on immigration levels, as many past Australian politicians on both sides have recognized, is that it could degenerate into Trump-style name calling and civil unrest, including at polling centres," Rizvi pointed out.

Rizvi termed Labor's proposal to cap international students as "unsustainable," adding that Coalition's approach could lead to pure chaos.

"But if Labor's approach is unsustainable, the Coalition's would be pure chaos. They are apparently proposing an overall student cap which would allow each provider to fight it out, year by year, before an annual cap is reached," he said. "Chaos would ensue before the cap is reached earlier and earlier each year because of the buildup of a massive backlog. Both approaches represent short-termism ahead of an election."

He suggested introducing entrance exams for foreign students, with minimum exam score in line with those for domestic students.

"The university entrance exam score, adjusted as needed, should be the primary means of managing sustainable growth in the industry, not caps," Rizvi said. "What we need is a measured, long-term approach where registered education providers in each sector compete on a level playing field for students who have a sufficiently strong academic record."

Both Labor and Coalition have promised to implement a long-term cut on net migration. In a bid to reduce the number of students intake to Australian universities, Labor planned to raise the bar such as introducing tougher language tests and increasing the savings amount of money to show as savings. Coalition, meanwhile, had proposed a tiered approach to increasing the student visa application fee.

Speaking on the immigration issue, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Melbourne Professor Michael Wesley questioned the "yawning silence" of policy makers in ignoring the contributions made by immigrant population during the pandemic, climate and economic crises, SBS News reported.

Pointing to the role played by international students in the making of modern Australia, Wesley added that most of them joined Australian universities in the 1950s on "Colombo Plan" scholarships.