Gray army and migrants to help tackle nation’s skills shortage

“My starting point is in favor of giving people the security that comes with a path to permanent migration, a path to being an Australian citizen,” he said.

Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said the government’s decision to lift the permanent migration cap was a “really sensible decision”, despite falling short of the BCA’s proposal of up to 220,000.

“It’s going to put thousands of workers into the system. So too is the commitment to fast-track the processing of visas that are stuck in the system. This is a hugely important announcement,” she said.

The Australian Retailers Association said the increase in the migration intake and extra funding to speed up visa processing were significant policy wins.

“We’re in a global race for talent and we need to ensure Australia is an attractive destination to work and visit,” ARA chief executive Paul Zahra said.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the government had been preparing a plan to get older Australians working more if they wanted to since before the election. The measure, which is a trial for the rest of this financial year, is expected to cost $55 million.

“It’s a time-limited measure [that] we hope spurs some additional workforce participation amongst older Australian workers,” he said.

National Seniors chief advocate Ian Henschke said the $4,000 increase in what pensioners could earn before their entitlement was reduced was a welcome step, but urged the government to go further.

“This could have been targeted at areas such as healthcare and the childcare sectors where there are substantial shortages of workers,” he said.

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Minister for Women Katy Gallagher said women were front and center of the summit. The government has committed to changes requiring companies with more than 100 employees to report their gender pay gap to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, and providing education and self-assessment tools so businesses can be acknowledged as “carer-friendly” workplaces.

“In short, I just reckoned women nailed it at this summit,” she said.

“For me, the most important outcome of this summit was that women’s equal participation, gender equality, is recognized unanimously by everyone who attended the summit as critical to our economic resilience and prosperity.”

Chalmers said there were 36 “concrete areas of action” with a similar number of proposals that would be considered in the coming months or as part of the summit’s employment white paper that is due to be completed within 12 months.

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Next week’s cabinet meeting will start considering some of the legislation needed to back up the agreements made at the summit, which was attended by 142 people from business, unions, community organizations and the states.

The Liberal Party vetoed the summit, labeling it a talkfest. But Nationals leader David Littleproud attended, saying the government should look at paying the HELP debts of registered nurses and pharmacists who worked in regional areas.

Liberal immigration spokesman Dan Tehan said it was important that proper visa processes were maintained, adding that a possible overhaul of the entire visa system would be a good step.

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