Almost 300,000 fewer long-term immigrants are forecast by the federal government to enter Australia over the next two years, robbing the economy of consumers, skilled labour, taxpayers and homebuyers.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed the big expected fall in migration. Alex Ellinghausen
Population growth of about 1.5 per cent has accounted for most of Australia’s economic growth in recent years, and about two-thirds of the population expansion has come from migration.
ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott said on Friday the Australian economy was heavily reliant on foreign tourists and students.
“The reality is there is no V-shaped recovery because our economy is open and very, very dependent on exports and tourists and migrants and foreign students,” he said on ABC Radio.
“Until the world has gone back to normal and we have a vaccine that is widely available, many of our industries can’t go back to normal.”
Net overseas migration is the net gain or loss of population through immigration to Australia and emigration from Australia, based on international travellers’ duration of stay for at least 12 months over a 16-month period.
Mr Morrison said the estimated immigration decline was “quite significant” for the economy, as he talked up the need to download the COVIDSafe tracing app to allow businesses to reopen and people to return to work.
He said the migration drop was not expected to be permanent and the forecast was uncertain because the COVID-19 scenario had improved significantly compared to six weeks ago.
Australian National University demographer Liz Allen said immigration was crucial to the government’s income tax base.
“With fewer migrants helping build and maintain the economy by providing needed skills … the national budget will take an enormous hit in the short to medium term.
“Additionally, Australia will likely see postponement and even foregone births as a result of COVID-19, meaning we may see fewer and fewer children being born into the future leading to major pressure on the economic wellbeing of the nation.”
Australia on March 20 imposed a ban on all non-residents and non-Australian citizens coming to Australia to stop the importation of the virus. The majority of confirmed cases in all states were acquired overseas, according to the Health Department.
Grattan Institute chief executive John Daley said the borders could be reopened to a limited number of countries such as New Zealand and China later in the year if they had no reported active COVID-19 cases.
Chinese people represent about one-third of Australia’s foreign tourists and about one-quarter of foreign tourists.
“Those Chinese students and tourists are going to be much more interested in coming to a country with no COVID,” Mr Daley said.
The Morrison government last year cut the annual permanent net overseas migration cap to 160,000, from 190,000, in response to community concerns about congestion and expensive house prices.